You probably know that Dr. Z and the oral health care professionals at SS Dental like to see you every six months. That way, we can routinely watch for cavities and gum problems. But Dr. Z is also your first line of defense against something more serious: oral cancer.
Oral cancer, just like any other form of cancer, can be life-threatening. However, the earlier it is detected and treated, the better the chances of survival are. An oral cancer screening at SS Dental can be the key to overcoming the condition if you should become affected by it.
Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, hard and soft palates, sinuses, and phalanx (throat). Smoking has long been associated with the disease, but it is not the only risk factor – tobacco use and a family history of cancer are also taken into account. It should be noted though that any individual is at risk for developing oral cancer. At SS Dental, Dr. Z. will conduct a complete oral cancer screening and check for the symptoms mentioned below.
Oral Cancer Symptoms:
Though the symptoms listed here can be present as the result of oral cancer, they are not always obvious in the early stages of the disease. Having an oral cancer screening performed at SS Dental can be very helpful in detecting it. It is performed by Dr. Z during your regular dental exam.
Before your exam, one of our friendly team members will update your medical history. It is important to find out if you have any new disease diagnoses or new medications since your last visit. Your medical history is just one more tool in determining your risk for cancer. Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women, making it the sixth most common cancer among men. Your oral health care professional at SS Dental will also want to know your current overall health as well as any dental concerns. Please don’t hesitate to let Dr. Z or her staff know any questions or concerns you may have.
During the exam, Dr. Z will examine areas both inside and outside of your mouth. She will examine your head and neck and then your lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, the floor of the mouth, and gum tissues. Dr. Z is looking for white or red patches, mouth sores, or any irregular tissue changes. You will need to remove dentures (partial or full) if they are worn. Dr. Z will then feel the tissues in the mouth using gloved hands to check for lumps or other abnormalities.
In addition to the oral cancer exam that Dr. Z conducts on all patients, Dr. Z recommends an oral cancer screening utilizing Vizilite for her patients over 30 years of age or those patients with a higher risk for oral cancer. Vizilite is an advanced oral cancer screening tool used to identify abnormal cells along the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat. Vizilite utilizes a special mouth rinse that causes abnormal potentially pre-cancerous or cancerous cells to appear to glow when viewed with a special light. Vizilite is a tool that is useful for detecting oral cancer at its earliest stages. The screening itself is quick (just under 5 minutes) and painless. If any areas of concern do appear, Dr. Z may recommend a follow-up visit or a biopsy.
It is essential to make regular visits to Dr. Z and the rest of the oral health care professionals at SS Dental not only for general maintenance of your teeth and gums but for the early detection of oral cancer. Contact SS Dental today to schedule your appointment.