Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oral Cancer Screenings At Your Dental Office

While most of us think of our scheduled dental appointments in terms of checking for cavities or gum disease, there are other conditions that your dentist may also look for. During your regular check-ups, your dentist may examine your mouth for oral health issues such as oral cancer. By detecting any abnormalities in your oral health early, it will help you get the treatment you need to either regress or eliminate the risk of developing a more serious oral health condition.

Oral Cancer Screenings

What is Oral Cancer? Oral cancer or mouth cancer is where cancerous cells are found on the lips, tongue, gums, the inner lining of the mouth, jaw or upper throat area. There are a number of symptoms of oral cancer that start to appear early on. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are often overlooked as other issues when they first take hold. Ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening if offered.

How to Detect Oral Cancer? Detecting and properly diagnosing oral cancer is part of the training that your dentist has received. Your dentist will be familiar with the different forms that oral cancer can take. One way you can help is by reporting to your dentist any abnormalities or symptoms you’ve noticed or experienced. These symptoms of oral cancer include:

- White or red patches in your mouth

- A mouth sore that won’t heal within two weeks

- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth

- A soreness of feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat

- Problem or pain with swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue

- A lump in your neck

- Ear pain

- Dramatic weight loss

In fact, if you show any symptoms that last for more than a few days and show no signs of regressing, then scheduling an appointment with our dentist in Arlington Heights is a must.

Who Gets Oral Cancer? Oral cancer can happen to anyone but is most developed by men. Those who smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer, as well as users of dip, snuff or chewing tobacco. This is all due to the bacteria and chemicals that are inserted into the mouth on a daily basis. Oral cancer also occurs six times more in those who are excessive alcoholic drinks. This type of cancer can be genetic and can be found in those who are exposed excessively to the sun. However, it is important to note that anyone can get oral cancer even if you don’t smoke or drink.

What are the Treatments for Oral Cancer? At this point, your dentist will most likely recommend you to a cancer specialist who will then take over the treatment. The treatment will depend mostly on what size, type, and stage the cancer is found. In most cases, small cancerous tumors are removed along with a small ring of healthy tissue that surrounded it and radiation or chemotherapy is then delivered to kill off any remaining cancerous cells.

When radiation therapy is applied to the mouth, side effects may occur including tooth decay, mouth sores, bleeding gums, jaw stiffness, fatigue or skin reaction. Side effects of chemotherapy may include fatigue, vomiting, nausea, hair loss and weakened the immune system. However, with this specific treatment, side effects usually go away once treatment is completed.

At Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we provide comprehensive, high-quality dental care for families including oral cancer screenings. Our dentist in Arlington Heights makes sure to understand your concerns and answer your questions fully, as well as take the time to fully diagnose any oral health problems.