Filling cavities is one of many services that a family dentist provides. Cavities are holes in teeth that occur due to tooth decay. However, if the decay is caught early, it may be possible to reverse it before a cavity forms. Understanding how and why tooth decay happens may make it easier to learn how…
Getting an Oral Cancer Screening From a Family Dentist
A family dentist performs treatments like oral cancer screening for the entire family. These examinations can help detect oral cancer early on, significantly increasing the odds of a positive outcome.
Oral cancer screens are typically performed during routine dental visits. Additional tests are ordered if the family dentist notices abnormal cells in or around the patient’s mouth.
How a family dentist screens for oral cancer
Oral cancer screens are performed to detect precancerous lesions or cancer in the mouth. Early detection is vital because cancerous tissues are easiest to remove in their early stages. Factors that increase a person’s risk of developing cancer include:
- Tobacco use
- A prior cancer diagnosis
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Excessive sun exposure
- Certain types of human papillomavirus
An oral cancer screen can lead to additional testing based on the dentist’s findings. Not all abnormal growths in the mouth are cancerous, so testing is required to determine if they are. Samples of abnormal growths are typically taken when detected so they can be sent to a lab for further analysis.
Oral cancer screens do not detect all mouth cancers because visually detecting abnormal cells in the mouth can be quite the challenge. A family dentist typically uses a mouth dye to make it easier to notice odd cells in a patient's mouth. The dye turns abnormal growths in the mouth blue.
Getting an oral cancer screen does not require any preparation on the patient’s part. The dentist might have the patient rinse their mouth with a dental dye before visually examining the insides of the mouth in search of mouth sores or red/white patches. The dentist carefully examines the patient’s tongue, the insides of the cheeks, their gum tissues, the roof of the mouth, the back of their throat, and underneath the tongue.
The dentist then uses their fingers to feel for lumps and other abnormalities in the patient’s mouth. The family dentist also examines the patient’s throat and neck when looking for lumps.
Additional tests are recommended based on the results of the examination. These include:
- Using a special dye that makes abnormal cells in the mouth turn blue to pinpoint problematic areas
- Using a screening light that makes abnormal tissues appear white
- Taking a sample of abnormal tissues and sending it to a lab for further testing, a procedure called a biopsy
- Scheduling a follow-up screening to monitor the progression of abnormal cells in the mouth
Protect your health
Oral cancer screens are performed to detect abnormal spots and lumps in your mouth that might be signs of cancer developing. It can be performed during routine checkups, and the process only takes about five minutes. Early detection of oral cancer can dramatically increase the odds of successful treatment.
When was the last time that you were screened for oral cancer? Give us a call or stop by our Bellevue clinic to set up an appointment with our family dentist.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Family Dentist in Bellevue, WA.
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