Maintaining regular checkups and cleanings with a family dentist helps reduce damage caused by cavities and gingivitis, but these visits are also a vital step in early detection of oral cancers.
During routine exams, dentists carefully observe and feel for any abnormalities such as bumps, lumps, lesions, and discoloration. If something stands out as suspicious, the dentist can perform a biopsy or more thorough examination, or refer patients to specialists.
Despite incredible advances in modern medicine and dentistry, cancers are still relatively mysterious and this contributes to fears that the “cancer” label provokes in patients. With early detection, a great many cancers can be treated successfully, and family dentists play an important role in detection and treatment planning processes. Special training prepares dentists and related medical and dental professionals for recognizing the earliest signs of potential problems.
Oral cancer screening is part of general checkup appointments, with a family dentist inspecting the insides of the mouth, including the throat, palate, tongue, and cheeks, as well as gums and teeth. The dentist also examines different parts of the face, mouth and neck to feel for any possible abnormalities. This is a routine process, painless under normal circumstances, and a very easy proactive approach to ensuring oral health and thus overall health.
Screening through a general exam and observation can detect a great number of potential health issues, but not all. Family dentists also take annual dental X-rays to look for any issues with bones that may not be easily felt or observed through the standard checkup examination. The dental checkups are also an excellent time to voice concerns and ask questions and these questions can help improve the care provided by the dentist.
While the thought of cancer screening can be unnerving, early detection is the greatest key to successful treatment. Attending regular checkups and cleaning appointments with the dental team and asking questions or expressing concerns, including discussing family history regarding cancers and other health conditions, will help the dentist provide the best care possible.
Early detection saves lives. For more information on dental procedures, oral cancer screening, or to make an appointment, contact our office today.