Did you know that an oral cancer screening is supposed to be a part of your routine check-up? It’s true; our Houston dentist does more than just examine your teeth. Here’s what you can expect:
What We Look For
We examine your entire mouth for suspicious areas that might reveal oral cancer, including your lips, gum tissue, tongue, cheeks, and both the roof and floor of your mouth. We look for red or white patches, a sore that bleeds easily or one that hasn’t healed for a while, a thick or hard lump, or a rough or crusted area.
What If The Dentist Finds A Suspicious Area?
If our Houston dentist finds an area of concern, then we can take a biopsy (small cell sample) of the tissue. We’ll send the collected cells to a laboratory for a specialist to examine under a microscope. Once the evaluation is complete, the lab will send us a report of the results, which we’ll then discuss with you.
What If It’s Cancer?
If the results come back positive for cancer, then we’ll refer you to either an oral surgeon or oncologist (cancer doctor). In some cases these two specialists will work together to provide you with the best treatment possible. You may be looking at surgery to remove the lesion in addition to radiation and chemotherapy.
Are You At Risk For Oral Cancer?
While oral cancer can happen to anyone at any time, some people are more susceptible to acquiring this disease. For example, if you fall into the following category then you have a higher chance of getting oral cancer:
Tobacco use – Whether you’re smoking cigarettes, using smokeless tobacco, or even being exposed to second-hand smoke, your chances of developing oral cancer are increased.
Alcohol consumption – Alcohol causes mouth irritation, which can lead to oral cancer.
Sun exposure – Sun exposure can cause cancer of the lip.
HPV – Human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the mouth and throat and lead to oropharynx cancer.
Early Screening Saves Lives
Early diagnosis of oral cancer will give you the best chances of only needing minimally invasive treatment. To catch this disease as soon as it starts you should perform regular at-home check-ups as well as have professional exams by your dentist.
At home your self-evaluations should be monthly, looking for the signs we mentioned above. For a professional exam, Dr. Bastani can check your mouth every six months during your routine cleaning and check-up so be sure to attend all of your scheduled appointments.
What To Do If You Find A Suspicious Lesion?
If there’s an area in your mouth that you’re concerned about, don’t wait until your routine dental checkup to have it looked at. Call North Houston Dentistry for an appointment and we’ll get you seen by a dentist right away. Even if it’s nothing to worry about, we’re glad to give you peace of mind. Please don’t hesitate to come visit us; your quality of life may depend on it.