dental practice can look for oral cancer through regular dental visits. The dentist likes to see the patients every six months or so to find gum disease or cavities. However, oral cancer is another commonly addressed issue. Keep reading to learn more about the problem.
Seeing the dentist regularly
Patients should visit the dentist twice a year to have a cleaning and dental exam. But the dentist often looks for oral cancer, as well. Oral cancer could show up as a sore or growth, which does not go away. It includes cancer in the throat, tongue, lips, cheek, and other areas. Without early intervention, it can be life-threatening. The dentist might do a checkup during each trip to the dental practice.
What does an oral cancer screening involve?
The dentist will go over a patient’s medical history to see if they are at risk of cancer. Dentists can also learn whether patients are taking new medications. During the medical history, the dentist might ask about risk factors like drinking or smoking heavily. These put a patient at a higher risk for the condition.
Men might be more likely to have cancer than women are. The dentist will work to learn about the patient’s current history. That is also the time for the patient to ask any questions and have concerns addressed. The screening involves looking at the area outside and inside the mouth.
The dentist needs to look over the neck, head, tongue, and gum tissue. There could be tissue irregularities, sores, lumps, or other concerning changes. If there is a lesion or another suspicious area, the dentist might have the patient do a biopsy. It might or might not be oral cancer.
Signs to know about
There are a few warning signs patients should not ignore. That includes bumps or rough patches that do not heal. There could be white or red patches in the mouth. The patient might also have unexplained bleeding. Other signs might include:
Patients should not ignore a warning sign until the next checkup. They should see the dentist if something does not clear up in around two weeks. That includes lumps, growths, and colored patches. There might be trouble speaking or swallowing as well, which could indicate an issue. Patients should not wait until something is painful since pain is not the right indicator of a problem. Just because it does not hurt does not mean there is not an issue at play.
Prevent oral cancer with regular dental practice visits
Having regular checkups at a dental practice can help patients reduce issues with the teeth. The dentist can find them early. However, the dentist also plays a significant role in finding oral cancer early on. That allows the patient to get treatment sooner rather than later.
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