How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?

How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?

June 1, 2022

You visit your dentist for routine exams and cleanings, thinking the professional only looks at your teeth and gums and is not concerned with any other part of your oral cavity. However, would you be surprised if informed dentists also look for signs of oral cancer in your mouth during your visits to them every six months or after a year?

Would you accept a recommendation by the CDC that you get oral cancer screenings regularly by visiting oncologists specialists in diagnosing and treating cancer? You would probably scoff at the CDC, claiming they merely increase your expenditure by suggesting examinations for problems not affecting you.

To prevent visits to another medical professional to check for signs of oral cancer, dentists perform oral cancer screenings when you visit them for your routine exams. Dentists are professionals you often visit with problems regarding your oral cavity, and the professionals discreetly perform oral cancer screenings without your knowledge.

The screenings do not create additional anxiety about oral cancer but are slight because early detection improves your chances of receiving successful treatment. It is why dentists recommend adults over 20 must have an oral cancer screening every three years, and people over 40 must have the screenings every year.

Why Shouldn’t You Fear Oral Cancer Screenings?

When you visit general dentistry in Danbury, CT, you expect the dental professional to examine your teeth and gums and perhaps clean them before offering advice on dental hygiene, diet, and other subjects. However, you do not expect the dentist to look beyond your mouth using dental instruments, light, and mirrors at different areas of your oral cavity besides your neck, chin, and jaw, trying to feel unusual masses or firm nodules.

In reality, the exam that you feel is unusual is oral cancer screening in Danbury, CT, which the dentist performs before you realize the genuine reason for looking at different areas of your mouth, head, neck, and jaw. The dentist completes the entire exam in under five minutes and doesn’t take more time for your routine visits either. Even better is the reality that you are not required to pay anything extra for the oral cancer screening, which the dentist adds as a complementary feature of your routine exam.

Why Should You Undergo Oral Cancer Screenings?

Are you aware oral cancer develops silently in your mouth without displaying symptoms and makes it challenging to treat the condition when detected later? You do not have to visit different medical professionals to get examined for oral cancer. Instead, you receive oral cancer screenings every six months or a year from your dentist whenever you see them for an exam.

When performing your dental exam, your dentist queries about your lifestyle habits like tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to sunlight, and HPV make you wonder why the dentist asks strange questions during a dental exam. However, your lifestyle habits are risk factors for developing oral cancer in the mouth and throat.

What Do Oral Cancer Screenings Involve?

Oral cancer screenings do not involve anesthesia, dental drills, or any other instrument associated with dentistry. On the contrary, the dentist starts by making a clinical exam of your mouth and throat. The professional uses a light, mirror, and tongue depressor to detect abnormalities in your mouth, such as bumps, ulcerations, swelling, and color patches. They examine all areas of your mouth using their hands, looking at your mouth roof, inner cheeks, tonsils, gums, tongue, and cheeks. They also palpate your jaw, neck, outside the cheeks, and under the chin looking for abnormalities that might indicate oral cancer.

Dental professionals use special dye if they detect any abnormalities to further evaluate the area for oral cancer. Suppose you receive an abnormal screening during your routine dental visit. In that case, you go to a specialist in treating cancer to diagnose your condition better and receive treatment as soon as possible. The aim of oral cancer screening by dentists is to detect abnormalities in your mouth early when obtaining successful treatment is higher.

Danbury smiles — George Landress, DDS, MAGD, recommends that adults perform monthly self-exams of oral cancer and report signs of changes that white lumps, patches, and sores to their dentist to receive the best care and treatment.

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