Torbram Dental weighs in on the importance of oral cancer screenings. (Source: Cleveland Clinic, Oral Cancer Screening, last reviewed September 8, 2022, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/21056-oral-cancer-screening ).
Cleveland Clinic explains that dentists use oral cancer screenings to search for indications of cancer inside your mouth. They will conduct a dental checkup. They will inspect the inner surface of your cheeks, gums, lips, tongue, floor, and roof of your mouth to detect any unusual growths or irregularities.
Torbram Dental shares, “Oral cancer screening, during your dental exam, is important because it helps detect signs of cancer in the mouth at an early stage when it’s easier to treat.”
Can you get an oral cancer screening during your dental checkup?
Cleveland Clinic says that multiple healthcare providers can conduct oral cancer screenings, but it is typical for dentists to provide them as part of their regular dental exam.
Torbram Dental explains, “It is essential to understand that oral cancer screenings are not diagnostic, but instead help healthcare providers identify potential indications of cancer. If any questionable signs are detected, your dentist will then refer you to an oncologist for further evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.”
What should you expect during this dental exam?
Cleveland Clinic guides that oral cancer screenings involve multiple methods. This includes visual exams, palpation, and the use of screening dyes and lights. Lesions, lumps, and bumps are examined, and oral screening tools such as toluidine blue dye may be used. Special lights can also be used with fluorescent mouthwash to differentiate between healthy and abnormal tissues.
Torbram Dental adds, “Preparing for an oral cancer screening is usually straightforward. Keep in mind the following:
Schedule an appointment: Contact your oral care practitioner and schedule a visit for an oral cancer screening.
Avoid smoking and alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol can play havoc on your oral health. Avoid smoking or using tobacco products; avoid alcohol for 24 hours before your screening.
Be honest with your healthcare provider: Be honest and open with your healthcare provider every time you go for a dental cleaning. Sharing your medical history and any symptoms, you may be experiencing will help them take care of your oral health.
Avoid eating or drinking for a few hours: Some oral care providers may recommend this. Eating or drinking before the screening can interfere with the examination.
Wear comfortable clothing: Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy access to your head and neck area, as your oral health care provider may need to examine those areas thoroughly.
Can you do an oral cancer screening at home?
Cleveland Clinic emphasizes that while some healthcare providers suggest performing monthly self-screenings for oral cancer, it is crucial to note that these should not replace bi-annual screenings at your healthcare provider’s office.
Torbram Dental advises, “You cannot stop going to your dentist for a thorough dental cleaning just because you follow an oral care routine. Similarly, home screenings for oral cancer are not a replacement for professional screenings.”
Cleveland Clinic shares that oral cancer is prevalent cancer that impacts the head and neck area.
Torbram Dental agrees, “Since it has alarmingly high mortality rates, early detection is crucial for timely diagnosis and treatment. Regular dental checkups offer the best opportunity to catch oral cancer in its early stages. To ensure optimal health, ask your healthcare provider for screenings every time you go for a dental cleaning.”