Cincinnati, OH dentist explains the importance of regular oral cancer screenings
Cincinnati, OH area patients who have scheduled their next dental visit will want to work with a professional who offers oral cancer screenings. Most screenings are done as a preventative to allow patients to be proactive in catching health problems early. This applies as well to oral cancer. Drs. Jesal Patel and Shawn Dornhecker are dentists at Patel and Dornhecker Dentistry who can explain the importance of oral cancer screenings at routine dental appointments.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the oral cavity. This may include the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the tongue and cheeks, or in the throat area. Because oral cancer is easy to spot with a physical examination, it can be diagnosed early enough for successful treatment. Oral cancer is often visible to a dentist. In fact, most cases of oral cancer are detected by dental health professionals. At Patel and Dornhecker Dentistry, we are pleased to offer routine oral cancer screenings to ensure patients are living a healthy life. Oral cancer may be detected as an abnormality in the mouth, such as a growth, lump, or sore that will not heal. Discoloration in the soft tissues of the mouth may also be indicative of cancer. A dentist who offers routine screenings is educated and experienced in finding areas of cancer that require treatment.
Who is at risk of oral cancer?
Oral cancer can impact anyone at any age. However, some of the critical risk factors that may contribute to the development of cancer include:
- Patients 40 years or older
- Patients who smoke or chew tobacco
- Patients with HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Patients with poor nutrition/unhealthy diet
- Patients who are male (more susceptible than women)
- Patients with prolonged sun exposure
- Patients who use alcohol heavily
Most patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer often have at least one of these risk factors, though patients who do not may still develop cancer. That is why it is so vital for patients to be evaluated regularly by a dental health professional to screen for oral cancer and other abnormalities that require professional attention.
What are the symptoms or signs of oral cancer?
When a dentist performs an oral cancer screening, he or she will be looking for:
- Patches of red or white in the mouth
- Bleeding spots or growths
- Areas of the mouth that do not heal as expected
- Spots, lumps, or bumps in the mouth
- Pain or numbness when biting down
- Unexplained and unusual scabs or wounds in the oral cavity
- Sores in the throat area
How can I prevent oral cancer?
Prevention is often the best way to keep a smile healthy and beautiful for many years. However, some conditions can develop without warning and a link to any of the risk factors. This is why it is essential that patients have their dentist evaluate them for oral cancer. Not every dentist provides this service, so patients should be diligent about choosing a dental professional who offers this screening.
How are areas of possible cancer screened?
If the dentist finds an area of the smile that may be indicative of cancer, he or she will take a sample of the area and send it off to a laboratory for further evaluation. The laboratory will check the sample, known as a biopsy, to determine if there are cancerous cells present. If the biopsy comes back as positive for oral cancer, it is critical that patients take action with a professional as soon as possible to avoid spreading of cancer. Most patients will schedule an appointment with a cancer specialist, called an oncologist, to learn about the type of cancer present and the most recommended options for treatment. Some patients may opt for a simple excision of cancer, while others may turn to radiation or chemotherapy to eradicate it.
Request your consultation today!
Drs. Jesal Patel and Shawn Dornhecker provide Cincinnati, OH area patients with a wide range of solutions under one roof, including oral cancer screenings. Schedule a visit with our staff today to speak with a professional about the need for routine visits for oral health and beyond! Call the Fairfield office today at (513) 815-3166 to request an appointment.