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Why are Oral Cancer Screenings so Important?

Here at Margolian Dentistry, we are passionate about preventative dentistry as it is by far the most effective way to help you maintain good dental health and to enjoy lower dental bills in the longer term. Your oral cancer screenings are an important part of your preventative dental care plan. This quick, non-invasive examination is completely painless and could even help to save your life. It is likely that our Ajax dentist is the only medical professional who regularly peers inside your mouth which is why this screening is so important.

One of the problems with oral cancer is a late diagnosis. Without regular screenings, this disease is frequently detected very late in the day, by which stage treatment is more invasive and the long-term prognosis is less certain.

What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can affect the cheeks, lips, tongue, the roof, and floor of your mouth, your sinuses or your throat. It appears as a growth or sore patch in the mouth and can cause several different symptoms. The most common symptoms of oral cancer can include:

  • Unexplained lumps, swellings or bumps in your mouth
  • Noticing you have red or white patches or patches speckled with both colors in your mouth
  • Oral cancer can cause numbness or pain and tenderness in your mouth, head or neck area
  • One of the most common symptoms is having a persistent sore or ulcer that fails to heal in two weeks and which could bleed easily
  • It might feel as if you have something caught at the back of your throat or you could develop a persistent sore throat or hoarseness
  • Your teeth may bite or occlude together slightly differently
  • If you wear dentures or other dental appliances, these may begin to fit differently

As you can see there’s a large range of symptoms and most of the time they will be due to something completely different other than oral cancer. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. During your oral cancer screening, our dentist in Whitby will carefully examine the inside of your mouth using a special handheld device called a VELscope. This emits a special blue light and when it is shone on any areas of concern inside your mouth, it fluoresces in a slightly different way, so we can detect any small changes to tissues that much more quickly.
If we think something requires closer examination, then we can take a tiny sample of skin cells to send for further analysis. If appropriate, we will offer you a referral to a specialist. It is important to stress that often any changes to your oral tissues will be due to something more harmless than oral cancer, but certain people are more at risk of developing this disease.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Oral Cancer?
People who smoke or use smokeless tobacco products are more at risk. If you are prone to drinking too much, then your risk is about six times higher compared to teetotallers. A family history of cancer or excessive exposure to the sun especially during childhood can increase your risk, as can exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, approximately a quarter of all oral cancers are diagnosed in people with no known risk factors which is why your regular oral cancer screenings are so important.

When you first visit our dentist in Oshawa, your risk of developing oral cancer is assessed and we can provide oral cancer screenings as appropriate. If, in between your appointments you happen to notice any changes to the inside of your mouth or have an ulcer that is failing to heal properly then please contact our friendly dental team for expert help and advice.

Feb 23, 2018 | Posted by

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