How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?

How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?


Oral Health

on Jan 20 2023, 02:21 AM

How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth: salivary glands, throat, gums, lips, the roof of the mouth, tongue, and the floor and back of the mouth. If oral cancer is detected and treated in the early stages, the survival rate can be as high as 90%.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is any abnormal cell development that results in a lesion or growth on the tongue, gums, cheeks, larynx, floor of the mouth, or lips. There are several forms of oral cancer, and each one requires different screenings based on its severity. When detected early, the survival rate for oral cancer is high. Early detection is critical for treatment success.

You can reduce your risk of developing oral cancer by:

  • Not smoking or using tobacco products
  • Avoiding heavy alcohol use
  • Limiting your exposure to the sun’s UV rays by using a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 or higher
  • Practicing good oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for a checkup and professional cleaning

During a professional cleaning and examination at your dentist’s office, your gums will be thoroughly examined to look for signs of oral cancer. If abnormalities are detected during your appointment, you will be referred immediately to a dental specialist for further tests and diagnosis. If you are suffering from symptoms like bleeding in the mouth, pain when chewing, sores that won’t heal, a lump or thickening, or other concerns related to your oral health, you should schedule an exam with your dentist as soon as possible. These symptoms are often associated with conditions like gum disease, which typically progresses quite slowly and can be reversed before major damage occurs. However, if oral cancer is detected, it must be treated right away to avoid spreading to other parts of the body. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018, over 9,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer every year. 

Who Is At Highest Risk?

Your risk of oral cancer goes up the more cigarettes you smoke in a day, week, or year. If you use chewing tobacco or snuff, your risk is also increased. Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use and a poor diet that is low in fruits and vegetables.

Oral cancer screenings are especially important if you’re over age 50. This is because the majority of all cases of oral cancer occur in people aged 55 and older. If you’ve used tobacco products in the past, you should still have screenings regularly. Having regular checkups is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for oral cancer.

Dental cleanings and exams are also important for your oral health in general. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup. During this appointment, the dentist can spot any early signs of potential oral health issues. Early detection of oral cancer gives patients a better chance of successful treatment. Being diligent about visiting the dentist every six months also reduces the risk for other dental health concerns like cavities or gum disease.

Please reach out to iTooth Family Dentistry in Springfield, MO, to have a consultation with our dentists, Dr. Robbins or Dr. Fincel. Call Dentist in Springfield, MO, at (417) 883-8515 or schedule an online consultation, and we’ll guide you further.

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