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Dental Exams: Early Detection For Oral Cancer?

While most associate dental examinations with teeth cleaning, dental professionals view regular examinations as opportunities to assess and detect early signs of disease, including oral cancer. This is one reason why dentists urge patients not to forego regular checkups. Though cleanings are important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, an oral cancer screening is included in most routine dental visits. Typically, this includes a visual or manual examination of the soft tissues of the mouth such as the tongue, gingivae, cheeks and lips. Yet, many dentists will also evaluate the throat and lymph nodes. Thus, is it fair to say that dental exams could lead to early detection for oral cancer? The answer is yes.
Perhaps you’re wondering what the dentist is looking for during a visual examination. The American Dental Association (ADA) lists the following examples:

  • A red or white patch
  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal (after two weeks)
  • A thick or hard spot, including a lump
  • A roughened or crusted area

In addition, the dentist may examine an individual’s bite, noting any changes in the tissues and the way that teeth fit together. Specific questions may be asked such as, “Do you have problems when you are chewing and eating?” “Does you experience pain and tenderness when swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw?”

Because tissues in the mouth are sensitive, it is common for individuals to experience some abnormalities. For example, many patients suffer from canker sores or herpes. Yet, the duration of a mouth sore is often the linchpin of it all. As a rule, if a sore does not heal or if it lingers for more than two weeks, it’s a good idea to see your dentist. While he/she may opt to reevaluate the sore after some time, a biopsy might be necessary to determine if the sore is cancer.

Your Oral Health Is A Vital Part Of Your Overall Health

At Dr. C Family Dentistry in Spokane, we believe that your oral health is a vital part of your overall health. That’s why we make every effort to educate our patients on the importance of keeping up with regular dental visits. If you are concerned about an area of your mouth or if it’s been some time since your last dental examination, call the team at Dr. C Family Dentistry today. Your health is worth the call.

Posted on behalf of Dr. C Family Dentistry

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Dr. Josh Chocran

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