Early Detection Of Oral Cancer: Why Regular Dental Check-Ups Are Crucial

Although you might think that dental checkups are only important to have a bright smile, you should know that they are also important for the early detection of oral cancer. When you schedule a dental visit you should expect a thorough examination of every part of your mouth including the oral tissues. They will carefully check for every abnormality including discolored patches or lumps. Due to their specialization and years of expertise, our dentists at Dr. Roland Zhuka’s dental clinic will be able to identify every little issue and offer the right treatment. 

Additionally, cutting-edge diagnostic tools offered by modern dentistry improve detection abilities. Regular dental checkups are extremely important in these cases since oral cancer may spread quickly and frequently show no signs at first. Ideally, these visits should be scheduled every six months. Prioritizing these tests provides an early defense against this illness, highlighting the importance of dental professionals in general health.

Just like any cancer, oral cancer is extremely dangerous, and if it is not detected at the right time it will minimize the chance to overcome it. The best course of action to deal with this issue is to schedule regular dental exams so dental professionals pay a huge part. In this blog post, we will help you understand better what oral cancer is, the importance of the dentist and what you can do to maximize your chances of overpassing it. 

Understanding Oral Cancer

Usually, oral cancer appears as an abnormal growth in your mouth that doesnt go away for a long time. These lumps will be located on the back of your mouth or on the upper throat, which makes it difficult for you to see them on your own. Another name for oral cancer would be oral cavity cancer. This condition will be life-threatening if it is not diagnosed at the right time. 

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Squamous cells in the oral cavity are the first to develop into oral cancer. Under a microscope, squamous cells have a flat appearance and resemble fish scales. When the DNA of normal squamous cells changes and the cells start growing, the cells turn malignant. These malignant cells have the ability to spread throughout your mouth, to other parts of your head and neck, and even to your body. However, there are other factors that can impact the development of oral cancer including:

  • If you smoke or chew tobacco regularly you are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
  • You consume high doses of alcohol on a daily basis. 
  • You don’t use sun protection on your lips. Sun is a huge contributing factor to skin and oral cancer. 
  • Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted infection. 
  • You have a family history of people who have suffered from oral cancer. 

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Many of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer might be confused with typical issues or changes in the mouth. For example, you might notice areas inside your mouth that are difficult to remove with brushing. These patches might be indications of malignant growth. Your mouth and throat may develop patches that are all various colors due to the following conditions and some of them are:

  • Leukoplakia: Your lips or throat may have flat, white, or grey areas on it.
  • Erythroplakia: These are red areas that are flat or slightly elevated. If you scratch these spots, they may bleed.
  • Erythroleukoplakia: Red and white patches inside your mouth area.

Some of the most common signs of oral cancer can be:

  • Lesions within your mouth or on your lip that bleed easily and don’t get better in two weeks.
  • Rough or dry patches on your gums, lips, or oral cavity.
  • Parts of your mouth that bleed when there’s no obvious reason.
  • Pain, numbness, or discomfort in your mouth, neck, or face that doesn’t seem to be related to anything.
  • Difficulty speaking, moving your tongue or jaw, or eating or swallowing.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Pain in the ears.
  • Having bad breath all the time.  

What Role Do Dentists Play In Cancer Prevention?

A dentist can initially detect anomalies in your mouth that are almost always early indicators of oral malignancies. Therefore, dentists play a key role in the early identification of oral cancer. The condition often manifests as white or red precancerous tumors inside the mouth.

On your initial appointment, most dentists begin with a basic checkup for oral cancer. It’s a 90-second assessment that involves searching for and touching for indicators of cancer. Ask your dentist whether they have examined your mouth for indications of oral cancer if you want to be absolutely certain.

Even those who are thought to be younger and less likely to get mouth cancer should have a test performed. Your chances of a successful oral cancer treatment are greatly increased if your dentist detects the illness early.

What Is An Oral Cancer Screening?

An essential component of routine dental exams is oral screenings. These thorough examinations usually begin even before your physical examination. Your dental hygienist will first update you on your medical history, taking into account any changes that have happened since your last appointment. If you have any new medical diagnoses, are taking any new drugs, or have any new ailments or diseases, they will keep track of it.

The dentist will also ask about any history of other risk factors for oral cancer, which include heavy alcohol intake and smoking because this condition is higher in these individuals. Your dentist or hygienist will also want to hear about any dental issues you may be having as well as your present state of general health.

Your dentist will check locations within and outside your mouth during the cancer screening. An extra-oral examination of the head and neck and an intra-oral examination of the lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, floor of the mouth, and gum tissues should be part of this examination.

Any lumps, lesions, or abnormal tissue changes—including discoloration—are what the dentist is searching for. In the event that they discover anything questionable, such as a lesion, your dentist could suggest a biopsy or direct you to an oral surgeon.

What Exactly Might A Dentist See During The Oral Exam?

Examining the mouth superficially is not enough for a comprehensive oral cancer screening examination. In order to detect any anomalies, a dentist or other expert will check and feel the face, neck, lips, mouth, tongue, thyroid gland, salivary glands, and lymph nodes. In order to examine the patient’s whole mouth, all detachable artificial teeth should be removed if possible.

Mainly the dentist is searching for anomalies like ulcers and red, white, or irregular spots. If you are at a higher risk of getting cancer, certain dentists may search for abnormal spots using special dyes and/or lights.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?

Oral cancer will be diagnosed at the dental office. This examination includes a medical examination of the soft tissues of the mouth and the next. They will also ask you if you have noticed any signs of abnormalities. If they suspect oral cancer they will most likely recommend a biopsy of tissue or cells and imagining such as x-rays, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound.

How Often Should You Be Screened?

Having regular checkups is a great way to diagnose oral issues as early as possible, especially when it comes to cancer. Because the dentist is trained and able to catch the early signs of these illnesses, scheduling regular visits every six months will be very helpful.  However when you notice any abnormalities contact your dentist as soon as possible dont wait for the routine check-up. 

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Oral Cancer?

A lump or swelling in the mouth, voice changes, loose teeth, chronic foul breath, chronic mouth sores, pain or trouble swallowing, and unexplained bleeding in the mouth are common symptoms of oral cancer.

Is Pain An Early Sign Of Oral Cancer?

Not often. Usually, oral cancer pain initially presents itself after the disease has advanced to a late stage. however, if you are experiencing any pain do not ignore it. To find out what is happening, have your dentist examine it.

What Is The Standard Treatment For Oral Cancer?

Surgery is practically a need for the treatment of oral cancer. Each surgical situation is unique and calls for a customized course of care. Depending on the size and anatomic position of the cancer development, either minor surgery or more extensive tissue resection of the surrounding tissue may be necessary. Physical and occupational therapy, targeted medication therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are some of the possible post-operative treatments that will be recommended in these cases.

Who Is Most At Risk For Oral Cancer?

The risk of oral cancer is six times higher among tobacco users. Smokers make up eight out of ten patients with oral cancer. Heavy drinkers run a higher danger as well. Eighty percent of patients with oral cancer had more than twenty-one drinks each week. Lastly, even if a person does not smoke or drink, they are still more likely to get mouth cancer if they have a history of oral human papillomavirus infections.

How Can You Prevent Oral Cancer?

Only one in five patients report having had an oral cancer exam in the last year, despite the American Cancer Society’s recommendation for a thorough oral assessment and soft tissue exam every year. Your prosthodontist is qualified to examine your mouth and all related head and neck tissues in a thorough examination. This is the only method to reduce the likelihood of cancer spreading further.  

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