Oral cancer is a serious disease that claims nearly 10,000 lives each year. Fortunately, it’s easy to get screened for this condition and increase the chances that you’ll survive if you happen to develop it. In fact, all you have to do to receive a professional screening is visit your dentist in Loveland. Just how often does your dentist check for this disease, and what can you expect during your screening?
Annual Screenings Protect Your Health
The standard recommendation is that adults receive an oral cancer screening at least once a year. However, folks who have certain risk factors should get checked more often. If any of the following are true of you, your dentist may suggest that you come in twice (or more) each year for an oral cancer screening:
- You smoke or use other tobacco products
- You drink heavily
- You both smoke and consume a lot of alcohol (people who indulge in both of these habits by far have the greatest risk of developing oral cancer)
- You have contracted the human papilloma virus (HPV)
- You spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun
- You have a weakened immune system
It’s easy to combine your oral cancer screening with your regular dental appointments. It won’t make your checkup much longer than usual, and many dentists even include a screening as part of a routine exam without you having to ask for it. If for some reason you’re unable to see your dentist, a regular physician may also be willing and able to perform an oral cancer screening.
What to Expect During Your Screening
An oral cancer screening doesn’t involve any scary or invasive techniques. In fact, the process is so quick and painless that you might not even realize it’s happening! A standard screening involves a tactile and visual examination by a professional who has been trained to spot early signs of the disease. They’ll examine your tongue, cheeks, lips, and throat. Some things they’ll look for include:
- Growths or lumps
- Color changes to the skin
- Loose teeth
- Unusual sores
The person who screens you may also ask you a series of questions that may indicate if you have symptoms of oral cancer. Be sure to mention it if you’ve been experiencing:
- Frequent sore throats
- Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
- Changes to your voice
- Unexplained changes to your weight
- Tongue pain
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Persistent bad breath
Of course, there are other potential causes for all of these symptoms, but it’s still important that you tell your dentist about them just in case cancer is the culprit behind the issue.
Oral cancer may not be the most common disease out there, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the possibility that it will affect you. Please get screened for this serious disease at least once a year.
At Fox Creek Family Dental in Loveland, we’re committed to promoting our patients’ oral and overall health. If you’d like an oral cancer screening, please contact us at 720-458-6401.