The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. That’s why getting regular oral cancer screenings is important as part of your routine dental care. Oral cancer screenings by an experienced dental care provider can help detect potential issues early on and increase your chances of successful treatment. Let’s look at why oral cancer screenings are essential for everyone.

The Benefits of Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

According to the Moffitt Cancer Center, adults over the age of 20 should have a screening every three years, while those over 40 should have annual screenings.

During the oral cancer screening exam, your dentist or oral surgeon will perform a visual exam to identify any signs or symptoms of oral cancer. They will examine the face, neck (lymph nodes), lips, tongue, throat, and inside of the mouth and look for lumps or other changes in color or texture that may indicate a potential problem. If signs of mouth cancer are seen, a biopsy may be recommended to confirm whether or not there are any malignant cells in the area.

Early Detection Is Key

Regularly scheduled screenings give your dentist a baseline understanding of what is normal for you and can help them identify any changes that occur between visits. Early detection is critical when it comes to oral cancers because a precancerous lesion can grow quickly and spread throughout the body if left undetected and untreated for too long. That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date with your dental checkups so that any issues can be addressed quickly and effectively before they become more serious problems down the road. 

Did you know?

Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer are more than twice as common in men than women. The lifetime risk of a man developing oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 1 in 60, while in women, it is 1 in 141.

Signs and Symptoms To Watch For

Common signs to watch for include:

  • A sore or lump in the mouth that doesn’t heal
  • Discolored tissue
  • Unusual bleeding in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or persistent sore throat
  • Persistent bad breath
  • White patches (leukoplakia) 

If abnormal tissue is seen, a biopsy may be taken to determine if it is benign or cancerous. The most common types of oral biopsies are:

  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Oral brush biopsy
  • Punch biopsy
  • Incision biopsy
  • Excisional biopsy 

If you require a biopsy, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon. They will discuss all the possible treatment options and any potential risks associated with the procedure.

Common Risk Factors

Oral cancer screenings are also important because they can help identify any lifestyle or environmental factors that may put you at risk for developing oral cancer.

Some of the major risk factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking and other forms of tobacco use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Excessive sun exposure (lip cancer)

The Bottom Line

Oral cancer screenings are vital to maintaining good overall health and well-being. Don’t let fear prevent you from getting screened; the earlier potential issues are identified, the better your chance of successful treatment. Make sure to talk to your dentist about scheduling regular checkups and ask questions if anything seems unusual during your exams. Taking time out of your day now could save your life in the future!

Best Oral Surgeons in Phoenix

At AZ Max, we understand the importance of regular oral cancer screenings and are committed to providing our patients with the best possible care. Our team of highly trained and experienced oral surgeons use advanced technology and techniques to help detect any potential issues early on, so you can get the treatment you need as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

If you are looking for an oral surgeon near me, contact the experts at AZ Max. Call (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form. We have 4 offices throughout the Phoenix East Valley and 1 in Show Low to serve you better.

We look forward to helping you get back to optimal health!