Seeing your dentist is important for keeping your teeth healthy and clean, but an oral cancer screening could save your life.
Dentists routinely perform oral cancer screenings as part of their regular practice. Being checked for signs of oral cancer can be very important, particularly if you’re at an increased risk of the disease. With dental screenings for oral cancer, any noticeable signs of cancer can be caught early and hopefully treated before they become more serious.
What is an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening is when a dentist examines your mouth, looking for signs of oral cancer or precancerous conditions that could lead to oral cancer. With an oral cancer screening, a dentist tries to find early signs of oral cancer. When caught early, oral cancer is more treatable and has a better prognosis. If caught late, oral cancer can be deadly.
Typically, dentists will perform basic oral cancer screenings as part of a regular appointment, examining your mouth and looking for any abnormalities. However, some dentists will perform more thorough examinations, and may use tests and screening tools for identifying abnormalities in your mouth.
The Importance of Your Dentist Screening for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer screenings can be important for early diagnosis and effective treatment. One of the problems with oral cancer is that there are often few physical signs or symptoms of the disease. In the early stages, oral cancer can develop without causing any adverse symptoms. Once someone develops physical symptoms, the cancer may have progressed into a more serious, less-treatable form. Oral cancer screenings are one of the only ways to catch visual signs and diagnose the disease in its earliest stages.
The earlier you catch oral cancer, the easier it is to treat. When caught early, oral cancer has a good prognosis and survival rate. However, the five-year survival rate drops significantly when oral cancer is not caught early. When oral cancer is not caught in the early stages, it is more likely to result in death or require aggressive forms of treatment. With oral cancer screenings, dentists can help identify signs of the disease in the early stages, when it’s more treatable.
How Do I know if I’m at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are certain risk factors that increase your odds of developing oral cancer. People with an increased risk of oral cancer should speak with their dentist about having an oral cancer screening performed regularly.
The following risk factors increase your chances of developing oral cancer:
- Age (people over the age of 40 are at an increased risk)
- Sex/gender (men have double the risk of women)
- Cigarette or tobacco use
- Alcohol consumption
- Sun exposure
- Poor diet
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Performing unprotected oral sex on a partner
However, it is still possible to have oral cancer without any of these risk factors. The only way to know if you have oral cancer is through examinations and screenings. If you’re worried about oral cancer, speak with your dentist about your options for oral cancer screenings.
Looking for a dental clinic to handle your dental care needs? Princeview Dental has been a fixture of the Kingsway area in Etobicoke for over 20 years, where we’ve provided dedicated family care in a professional, welcoming, and modern environment. Please call us today at (416) 231-4562.