The COVID-19 outbreak has limited most dental offices to only offering emergency dentistry treatment. One of the most common types of dental emergencies is a toothache, although not all toothaches require emergency care. It is important to know what signs indicate the need to seek prompt treatment for a toothache to ensure that the issue…
Do Family Dentists Offer Oral Cancer Screenings?
During a visit to a family dentist, you might be wondering if you can get an oral cancer screening. The answer is yes, a family dentist will usually offer a screening for oral cancer. This is an important exam that you should get each time you visit the dentist. Read on to learn what an oral cancer screening at a family dentist looks like.
What is an oral screening?
In this type of screening, a family dentist will look for precancerous conditions in a patient’s mouth. The earlier that oral cancer is identified, the more likely it is that the cancer can be cured. Oral cancer screenings can save a patient’s life. A family dentist will likely do this exam during a normal dental visit.
During the screening, a family dentist will look for white or red patches inside a patient’s mouth. The dentist will also look for any mouth sores. Then the dentist will use their hands to feel the tissues inside the mouth. The dentist will look for abnormalities such as lumps. Sometimes, the dentist will examine the neck or throat for lumps.
A dentist will also use additional screenings to look for oral cancer. These tests may offer additional benefits. Some of these exams include an oral cancer screening dye. The family dentist will have the patient rinse the mouth with a blue dye.
If there are abnormal cells in the mouth, the cells can absorb the dye and look blue. Another way that a dentist may examine a patient’s mouth is with an oral cancer screening light. With this fluorescent light, healthy tissue will look dark while abnormal tissue looks white.
Who is at risk for oral cancer?
People who have a high risk of developing oral cancer can particularly benefit from an oral cancer screening. There are several factors that can increase a patient’s risk of getting oral cancer. Tobacco use increases this risk, including pipes, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars and snuff. Those who drink a lot of alcohol are also more likely to get oral cancer.
Having a previous diagnosis of oral cancer also makes a patient more likely to develop oral cancer in the future. Sun exposure can increase a patient’s risk of getting lip cancer. Over the past several years, studies have shown that the number of people with oral cancer is growing. However, it remains unclear why this is. Many types of oral cancer are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Visit a family dentist today
If a family dentist discovers abnormal results, the dentist may want you to have more screenings. This can include a biopsy to test the cells and an additional visit to see if there have been changes. The good news is that catching any abnormal areas now will give you a good chance at recovering. Visiting a dentist regularly is a good way to catch potential signs of oral cancer in its earliest stages.
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