Regular checkups with your dentist can help with more than just your smile. The visits allow the dentist to check for signs of oral cancer. If you want to keep your mouth healthy you should be visiting your dentist at least once a year. Health professionals do not agree on how often you should get oral cancer screening tests. Some believe it would be a good idea to get screened if you have a higher risk of getting oral cancer. They point out the following habits to support their suggestions.
If you are a habitual user of any of the above you should be asking your dentist whether you need an oral cancer screening test.
There are different types of oral cancer screening tests and your dentist is likely to give you a basic exam that includes looking through all the areas and parts of your mouth including:
If you are wearing dentures you will be asked to remove them during the screening for checking the tissue beneath them.
Your dentist will put a finger in your mouth below the tongue and a couple of fingers on the skin below the chin and attempt to feel the tissue between them. The dentist will also feel beneath your jaw. The examination should be over in less than five minutes.
The objective of the exam is to look for lumps and spots and check if anything looks unusual about the saliva that covers all the pink parts inside your mouth. If you notice anything unusual by yourself you must be given your dentist a call for a screening.
Dentists may decide to do an in-depth study during your oral cancer screening test and provide you with a blue dye to rinse your mouth before the exam. If your mouth has any unusual cells the blue dye will be absorbed by them making them visible to the dentist during the exam.
If the dentist near you observes anything unusual you will be asked to return a few weeks later to check for any changes. You may also be suggested a biopsy where some tissue from the area that looks problematic will be taken and sent to a laboratory to check for malignant cells. The biopsy may be done by the dentist or you may be referred to the dentist in St Louis, MO.
Bear in mind that any spots or lumps detected by your dentist may not be malignant leading you to believe that the oral cancer screening test was a waste of time. However, if the dentist does detect anything it provides you additional treatment options that may not be available at a later stage. Therefore it is important to continue with your regular appointments with your dentist to allow him or her an opportunity to detect any signs of the problem.
The need to undergo oral cancer screening tests frequently is not necessary unless you have any problems with your mouth that are leading you to believe the screening may be necessary. The dentist conducting oral cancer screening in St Louis, MO, conducts the screening during routine visits every six months when you visit him or her for your routine exams and cleanings. Therefore you cannot determine that the routine checkups are just to keep your smile healthy. The exam allows the dentist to check for everything inside your mouth including signs of oral cancer which may or may not be present.
Screening for oral cancer does not mean you are affected by the disease. It is just a precautionary measure to detect any signs of the problem for treating it better if the exams and tests prove favorable for the disease. You should be happy that your dentist is also checking for oral cancer when giving you a routine examination along with cleanings for your teeth. He or she is making every effort to ensure your overall health is well cared for during the visit for a routine examination.