What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer Screening

We all know it's important to brush and floss our teeth every day and get regular dental checkups! Another part of good oral health is screening for diseases such as oral cancer. Your family dentist in Toledo Ohio can educate you about keeping your mouth healthy, including what to expect from an oral cancer screening.

Key Facts About Oral Cancer

Each year, nearly 53,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer, and the numbers are rising. This kind of cancer may be located inside your mouth, on your lips, or in your throat. Just like any type of cancer, oral cancer is more easily treatable with early detection. Medical science still has a lot to learn about treatments and detection, but screening is a useful tool in protecting your health.

Who’s Most at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Everyone can benefit from a screening, especially people in higher risk categories. You have a bigger risk for oral cancer if you:

  • use any type of tobacco, such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco
  • are a heavy alcohol drinker
  • have already had oral cancer
  • are a man
  • are over age 50
  • have a history of spending lots of time in the sun, causing a higher risk of lip cancer

Be Aware of Symptoms

You play a big role in detecting possible problems. Contact your dentist in Toledo if you’ve had any unusual symptoms for more than two weeks. These possible warning signs include:

  • white or red patches in your mouth
  • a sore, rough spot, or lump that persists
  • unexplained bleeding in your mouth
  • your mouth feeling numb, painful or tender
  • a sore throat that won’t go away
  • problems with swallowing, speaking, moving your tongue, or chewing
  • unexpected weight loss
  • teeth that seem misaligned when you close your mouth

What to Expect from Your Oral Cancer Screening

An oral cancer exam takes just a few minutes during your regular checkup at our dental office in the Toledo area.

Visual exam: The dentist examines the inside of your mouth to look for sores or unusual white or red patches. 

Physical exam: With gloved hands, she feels inside your mouth, and sometimes your neck area, for any abnormal spots or lumps.

Other tests: The dentist may decide to give you a mouth rinse with a blue dye that shows abnormal cells in your mouth, or to shine a special light in your mouth that can make abnormal tissue appear white. If needed, cells can be taken for testing.

Our dentist will talk with you about each part of the exam, so you’ll understand what’s happening and why.

Oral Cancer Prevention Tips

Regular checkups with your dentist are your first line of defense, to screen for oral cancer and to prevent other problems like periodontal disease. Reduce your risk by limiting sun exposure, tobacco, and alcohol. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise, for a strong immune system and a healthy mouth!

Contacting Your Family Dentist in the Toledo Area

For help with any dental symptoms, call the friendly Light Touch Dental Care staff at (419) 866-4271. Or use our convenient email form. If your concerns have you looking for a cosmetic dentist in Toledo, Dr. Natalie Nechvatal also provides an array of expert, caring cosmetic dentistry services for your whole family.