At The Dental Co. of Leesburg, we believe everyone needs to visit their dentist twice a year. One of the reasons we think this is important is for oral cancer screenings. During your checkups, we check your oral cavity and throat for cancer here at The Dental Co. of Leesburg.
We can’t tell who will get oral cancer and who won’t, but certain risk factors increase the possibility of oral cancer. Tobacco is at the top of the list. This includes its usage in all forms, including smoking, chewing, and others.
Drinking alcohol frequently, having a history of oral cancer, and a few types of HPV can also predispose to cancer. If you spend too much time in the sun, then you’ll be prone to getting lip cancer.
Cutting back on these habits or activities would lower your risk of getting oral cancer. Most of these are controllable, with varying difficulty, except for having prior oral cancer.
During a screening test, we’ll need to look everywhere in your oral cavity and the visible portion of your throat. This includes your lips, all sides of your tongue, your gums, your palate, the inside of your cheeks, and the back of your throat.
We might have to insert a finger under your tongue to feel for any irregularities. Putting a couple of wingers beneath your chin, over the skin, and feeling for masses and lymph nodes may also be done. Overall, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes.
Oral cancer screening is also painless, so no anesthesia is needed. You might feel very mild discomfort when we use our fingers to feel for irregularities, but that won’t hurt and will last a few seconds.
We can’t diagnose cancer through a physical exam. If any abnormalities are found, we’ll have to get a biopsy and send it for pathology. Once we have the results, we’ll be able to tell for sure what the abnormality is. It could be something benign, precancerous, or cancer.
These oral cancer screenings are usually done during routine checkups, and you might not even notice them.