What Is Done in an Oral Cancer Screening?
April 30, 2021
Oral cancer is a growth or sore in the mouth made up of cancerous cells. It can be on the lips, tongue, gums, and the top or the bottom of the mouth. If someone with oral cancer doesn't get treatment, it can be fatal.
Some people are at greater risk of developing oral cancer than others. Those people can benefit from getting an oral cancer screening from their dental professional. Men over the age of 50 are far more likely to get oral cancer, but there are other risk factors. These include:
Smoking or tobacco use
Heavy use of alcohol
Presence of the human papillomavirus
If a dental professional recommends an oral cancer screening, there are a few things that a patient should know about the procedure.
What to Expect
There is no special preparation for an oral cancer screening before arriving at the office. The dentist will assess a patient's risk factors when determining the full extent of the screening. The central part of oral cancer screening is a visual examination. The dentist uses a gloved hand to assist him in visually inspecting the entire mouth, looking for unusual sores or bumps.
Patients who have dentures will need to remove them. The dentist may also ask about the patient's spit, as this can also be an indicator that all is not well. This part of the oral cancer screening only takes a few minutes to complete.
Patients who are at greater risk or who have unusual bumps, sores, or growths may undergo additional testing. The dentist may have the patient swirl a special dye in their mouth. Abnormal cells pick up the blue dye and become more visible.
Another test the dentist may use to check for abnormal tissue is to use a special light. With this light, abnormal tissue looks white, while normal, healthy tissue appears dark.
If the dentist suspects a spot in the mouth is abnormal, he may take a biopsy. This is a small amount of tissue that he removes and sends for screening.
Who Is at Risk?
Certain things can put people more at risk for developing oral cancer. Tobacco users are much more likely, so the dentist will want to know if a patient has ever used these products, even if they quit. Too much sun exposure can also be a factor in causing cancerous lesions to develop on the lips. People who drink regularly or heavily are also at risk, even if they have quit and are in recovery.
More and more oral cancers are now associated with human papillomavirus. It is a sexually transmitted disease.
Talk to Your Dentist
The patient needs to discuss his or her health history with the dental professional. This helps the dentist to determine if they would benefit from an oral cancer screening or additional testing. The tests do not take much time to do.
It's important to talk to your dentist so you can get the proper care. If you notice something different in your mouth, reach out to Armbrust Dental, PC in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss your options.
Learn more about getting an oral cancer screening, contact Armbrust Dental, PC in Omaha, Nebraska at (402) 396-0003 to make an appointment today!