Nearly 53,000 Americans receive an oral cancer diagnosis each year, but a simple screening can help save thousands of lives. The experts at Fuller Smiles in Rancho Cucamonga, Culver City, and Long Beach, California, provide comprehensive oral cancer screenings as a precautionary measure for patients who are at risk of developing this serious disease. To learn more about your options, call Fuller Smiles or book an appointment online today.
Oral cancer typically appears as a sore or unexpected growth that doesn’t go away. This includes cancers of the floor of the mouth, cheeks, tongue, lips, sinuses, throat, and hard and soft palate.
The most common sign of oral cancer is a mouth sore that doesn’t subside on its own. Other oral cancer warning signs include:
Many people experience no symptoms at all in the beginning stages of oral cancer, so it’s important to schedule routine visits with the Fuller Smiles team at least twice a year.
An oral cancer screening is a physical exam in which the Fuller Smiles team analyzes your entire oral cavity, including the:
Your dentist performs this test in two parts. The visual exam portion of your screening requires them to remove any dental appliances from your mouth. Your dentist then uses a small light, mirror, and tongue depressor to look through your entire mouth for abnormalities.
Next, during the physical exam, they feel around your chin, jaw, and neck for swollen nodules or abnormal bumps. Depending on your symptoms or risk factors, such as whether you smoke, your dentist may also ask you to swallow while examining the back of the throat.
The Fuller Smiles team also uses the OralCDx BrushTest to test any tiny white or red spots in your mouth. While these spots are usually harmless, the BrushTest collects samples for computer-assisted laboratory analysis. If any unhealthy cells are found, the team can remove them altogether and prevent oral cancer from developing.
An oral cancer screening is not a diagnostic exam, so if your dentist finds any abnormalities, they may ask you to return for a second visit. If you did receive the BrushTest, your dentist calls you with the results soon after. In its early stages, oral cancer is treatable and the outcome positive.
Unfortunately, most oral cancer cases are not discovered until the disease has metastasized, or spread to other areas around the body. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to your dentist and prepare a list of questions prior to your oral cancer screening, especially if you have a family history of the disease or other risk factors.
Call Fuller Smiles or book an appointment online today to learn more about oral cancer screening.