Whenever a patient comes in for their regular visit, we do an oral cancer screening. It’s not something people think about very much but oral cancer can be detrimental to oral health. We want to share some preventive oral cancer tips and how YOU can help screen for it.
Your dental professional should be doing a cancer screening at every visit; this is something we take seriously at Wilder Dentistry, you should also be doing your own screening once a month. You’ll want to check the sides of your tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the throat as these are the most common areas.
Check for any visual abnormalities. Using a flashlight and a mirror is a good place to start. You can also feel around with your fingers for tactile lesions. When checking, you’ll want to look for depressed or raised lesions that can be red or white. If you notice anything, bring it to your dentist’s attention as soon as possible.
For HPV (Human papillomavirus), you’ll want to look for something that looks like a wart and is raised — it would be similar to a cauliflower texture. If this is found, we always recommend a biopsy so we can further examine the cells.
If you’re not sure how best to do a self-screening, you can always ask us at your next visit. We’ll walk you through the process and give you some tips to help you identify anything that needs a second look.
Who’s at risk
People who are ages 40 and above are at the highest risk for squamous cell carcinoma. Thankfully, this type of cancer is typically treatable when caught early. Which is even more reason why it’s so important to do your self-screening and regular checkups. For those over 40, some of the common risk factors include tobacco use, second hand smoke exposure, alcohol use, and UV tanning The risk for men is also twice as high as the risk for women.
Those between the ages of 20-40 are also at risk for HPV cancer. That risk can be accelerated by things like multiple partners, oral sex, kissing, and not being current on the HPV vaccine. If you’re in that age range and are participating in risky behavior, make sure you do your monthly health screenings and that you see your dentist regularly to avoid any complications. Like all types of cancer, the earlier it’s caught, the better.
Prevention is the best medicine
Unfortunately, oral cancer is on the rise. That’s why it’s so important to do your self-exams monthly as well as see your dentist regularly. If you know someone who is at a greater risk for oral cancer, be sure to share this information with them as well. Prevention is always the best medicine. Oral cancer can be scary but when it’s found early, it’s easier to manage.
For more information on oral cancer and help with understanding the best way to self-screen, set up an appointment with us at Wilder Dentistry. You can give us a call at (509) 891-7770.