Oral Cancer Screening at Medicine Hat

Cancer is a scary word and oral cancer is no different. How can you help prevent oral cancer and how is it detected? Oral cancer is more common in men than in women. It results in many deaths every year and is a serious problem. Your dentist at Park Meadows Dental can help you prevent and detect the signs of oral cancer. Treatments are available when oral cancer is detected early and this means identifying it quickly could save your life. Your dentist knows what to look for when examining your oral cavity for signs of cancer. He/she may notice changes to precursor tissue during a regular dental exam or see a suspicious-looking lesion that needs further investigation. Either way, your dentist is usually the first to discover oral cancer so it is important to come in for screening especially if you notice any of these symptoms.

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Symptoms That Could Indicate Oral Cancer

  • Your cheeks appear thicker than normal
  • Sores on your lips or in your mouth that won’t heal
  • Lumps in the facial region, on your neck, inside your mouth, on your tongue or cheek
  • Pain and difficulty chewing

Things That Increase Your Risk of Oral Cancer

  • You are over the age of 40
  • Too much exposure to UV light and the sun
  • A poor diet lacking fruits and vegetables
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol
  • HPV infections

Oral cancer screening can literally save your life. In a short visit to your dentist at Park Meadows Dental, you can find out if you are at risk for oral cancer.

The Screening Process

Your dentist will do a full examination of your head, neck, face and skin. Warning signs may include changes to skin colour, crusts or growths, asymmetry, fissuring or lumps. Your extraoral examination will also include checking your lymph nodes. The following step is a perioral and intraoral soft tissue exam. During this exam, we scrutinize your lips and the interior of your mouth in a multi-step procedure.

Your dentist may require a follow-up visit depending on what was discovered during the exam. When a precancerous lesion is discovered, it may be monitored and checked again during a follow-up visit as recommended by your dentist. A precancerous growth may require a biopsy to determine if cancer cells are present. Samples are sent to a lab where they will inform your dentist if these are cancer cells. Should there be an issue you may be referred to a dentist or doctor who specializes in oral cancer.

The best time to start your oral cancer screening is around the age of 18 and you should continue this treatment once per year. Do you smoke tobacco or consume alcohol? You should come in for an oral cancer screening twice a year as you are at higher risk.

How to Help Prevent Oral Cancer

  • Keep a solid oral health routine of brushing and flossing
  • Visit your dentist for a screening
  • Self-examination to notice changes in your oral cavity
  • Healthy living including exercising and a balanced diet

How Do I Conduct a Self-Exam?

Check your mouth inside and out, visually and physically. A mirror is helpful to make a note of any changes you may see. Look for lumps, bumps, and changes in colour and skin texture.

Park Meadows Dental cares about your health and recommends calling to book your oral cancer screening. Your dental appointment could save your life.

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