Oral Cancer Screening
No one likes discussing the topic of cancer; it can quickly scare the bravest of people. But as with any problem, if we can catch the symptoms earlier, the end results may be better. An oral cancer screening is conducted as part of your regular dental visit. It is painless, quick, and could be life saving. Our team at Grove Street Family Dentistry is happy to discuss the symptoms and red flags that we look for when examining your entire oral cavity for oral cancer. Education and information is an important factor in what we do.
An important reason to stick with the same dental practice is seeing changes as they happen. We are able to compare past information and any changes as they occur. This can be true for oral cancer screenings as well.
During your annual dental exam, which is often following your dental cleaning, we will look at and review the entire oral cavity. This includes all structures associated with your mouth, the cheek lining, inside and outside your lips, the tongue, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth known as the hard palate and the pharynx. We will perform a visual examination with simply a probe in hand, nothing that will cause discomfort or pain.
We are looking for:
|Changes in Color: We will look for areas of tissue that have changed color. White, black, or red tissue may catch our attention for a closer look.
|Changes in Texture: If tissue has become firm, bumpy, or broken, we may want to take a closer look.
|Development of Bumps or Lumps: We will look for masses that are growing both under the skin and above the skin. This may be one large mass or a series of tiny bumps. If we find any, we may want to take a closer look.
|Lesions or Sores that are not Healing: Any open wounds that the patient indicates just does not seem to be healing or reopening, may be an indication for us to take a closer look.
Please inform us of any symptoms that may be less apparent such as numbness, difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw. Changes to your bite can be a symptom of a larger problem.
Am I a Candidate for Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can develop in anyone. There are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer, including patients who smoke cigarettes or marijuana, patients who are heavy drinkers of alcohol and patients who have a family history of oral cancer. We check all of our patients, no matter if they meet those risk factors or not. Dentists find symptoms of oral cancer more often than any other medical professional.
If We Find Something
At Grove Street Family Dentistry, our team will include a thorough oral cancer screening, including a ViziLite scan, during your comprehensive exam. If we find an area of interest, or that we want a closer look at, we will discuss it with you at the time. We may ask to take a small tissue sample of that area to be sent to a lab for biopsy. This does not mean that you have oral cancer, it simply means that we want to rule out the possibility. We will discuss all steps with you at that time.