Oral Cancer Awareness: Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Screenings

Oral cancer screenings Jackson MI dentists

Staying on top of and prioritizing the health of your mouth can save you from unwanted consequences in the future. To help you be proactive, our Jackson, MI, dentists offer oral cancer screenings for all patients. Adults should get screened at least once a year, though more frequent evaluation can prove useful if you’re at higher risk for the condition.

Here’s why it’s recommended to come into our Jackson, MI, dental office and receive an oral cancer screening as part of your routine checkup.

What’s Involved In a Screening?

When you come in for a teeth cleaning every 6 months, the appointment will start with one of our hygienists screening you for oral cancer. The screening itself is fast, pain-free, and though it makes up a small portion of your visit, it’s crucial for catching symptoms before it’s too late.

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An oral cancer screening consists of two main parts: a visual and a physical exam. Our hygienist will be sure to give you a heads up before starting so you’re aware of what’s happening.

We’ll start with the visual portion and ask that any removable dental appliances, like dentures, are removed so the entire mouth can be observed. During this part of the screening, our hygienist will use a light and mirror to look for:

  • Lip or mouth sores
  • White or red patches inside the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Abnormal swellings, lumps, or bumps
  • Ulcerations

Your face, lips, neck, cheeks, and mouth will all be visually examined for asymmetries and obvious abnormalities. If all looks normal, our hygienist will move on to the physical portion of the screening.

Besides visual observation, our hygienist will also gently touch your face, mouth, and neck to check for any hard lumps of tissue. You may not always notice developing masses as early stages of oral cancer are commonly painless. Having a simple screening performed can be what saves you in the end.

Both a physical and visual exam are helpful when it comes to early oral cancer detection. If it’s been awhile since you’ve last been screened or you are concerned about a related symptom, please schedule an appointment with our dentists so we can perform an oral examination.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors 

The onset of oral cancer can be difficult to predict but there are a few factors that can increase someone’s risk for developing the condition. While genetics and family history can come into play here, they are not the only contributing factors.

However, regardless of a personal connection to oral cancer, it’s important to bring any concerning signs or symptoms to the attention of our dentists. For example, a sore on your lip that isn’t healing as it should or a velvety patch that develops under your tongue. Don’t assume everything will resolve on its own. Some instances warrant further investigation to be safe.

Individuals with a higher risk of oral cancer include those who: 

  • Are 55+ years old
  • Smoke or use other tobacco products
  • Excessively consume alcohol
  • Have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Expose the lips to the sun without protection, i.e., lip balm

Post-Exam Details

If everything looks good and feels normal during the screening, we’ll proceed with your teeth cleaning and ask you to return in another 6 months. Should something appear abnormal and require further evaluation, our dentists will inform you of any additional tests needed such as a biopsy. We may also ask that you come back in after a week or so to see if the area has changed.

Give Our Office a Call 

There’s no harm in receiving an oral cancer screening on the same day as your normal cleaning. Our team will be quick and if there are points of concern, our dentists in Jackson, MI, can discuss them further with you. Call The Dental Experience today at (517) 787-5367 to request an appointment.