Why an Oral Cancer Screening Could Save Your Life

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, more than 5000 Canadians were diagnosed with some form of oral cancer last year, while nearly 1500 will die from this disease annually. When oral cancer is detected earlier, the prognosis is far better, and treatment can be less invasive and more effective. However, it’s highly likely that the only medical professional that ever examines your mouth is your dentist in Whitby.

It’s one reason why your regular checkups are so important because we can carry out an oral cancer screening. Here at Margolian Dentistry, we firmly believe in a preventative approach, which is why we use the latest technology when screening patients for signs of any mouth lesions or diseased tissues that require further investigation.

What is a VELscope Oral Cancer Screening?
A VELscope is a small hand-held device that emits blue light, causing diseased tissues to fluoresce slightly differently, so it is much easier for your dentist in Oshawa to identify any tiny changes. It’s an excellent device that is entirely painless and non-invasive, and it’s an additional tool in our arsenal for fighting this disease. We also screen your mouth manually, checking for any lumps or bumps and any colour changes or changes to the texture of tissues that might require further investigation. Dentists are specially trained to detect these changes, and regular oral cancer screenings can help to save lives.

What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is where cells grow uncontrollably in the face, mouth or neck area, invading and damaging these tissues. It can affect the tongue, cheeks, lips, and the roof and floor of your mouth, as well as the sinuses and throat. One of the most common signs of oral cancer is developing a persistent sore in your mouth or neck or face that bleeds easily and which doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks. It can cause unexplained swellings or lumps or bumps or rough spots inside the mouth, or the development of red, white or speckled velvety patches in the mouth. Other signs include noticing your mouth is bleeding unexpectedly, or developing a sore throat or feeling as if something is caught in your throat. It can change the way your teeth or other dental appliances fit together and may cause difficulty in chewing and swallowing food or in speaking. Oral cancer can cause pain or tenderness, or unexplained numbness affecting your face, mouth or neck.

You should always seek medical advice from your dentist or doctor if you recognize any of the above symptoms or are concerned about your oral health.

Who Can Get Oral Cancer?
Anyone can develop this disease, but there are some risk factors. It’s more common in people aged over 50, and men are at greater risk than women. One of the biggest risk factors is smoking or having a family history of cancer or consuming alcohol to excess. Another risk factor is exposure to the human papillomavirus. Even if none of these risk factors apply to you, it’s important to remember that approximately one-quarter of all oral cancers develop in non-smokers and in people who only enjoy a drink occasionally.

What Happens If I Have A Suspicious Area in My Mouth?
If our Ajax dentist does spot anything that needs further investigation, you will almost certainly need a biopsy, where a small collection of cells is taken for a more detailed examination and possibly a referral to a specialist. It’s also worth being aware of any changes to your mouth and carrying out a self-exam at least once a month. When you get used to examining the healthy tissues in your mouth, you are more likely to spot any changes and can call your dentist immediately for reassurance and advice.

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