How Often Should I Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening with my Dentist?
Visiting a dentist every six to nine months for regular cleanings and a dentist checkup is an excellent way to keep your teeth shining white, and gums healthy. What many people do not realize, is that your dentist is not only checking for signs of gingivitis and tooth decay, but also conducting an oral cancer screening.
The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify possible mouth cancer early. As with any type of cancer, early detection means that there is a greater chance of recovery. A properly trained and licensed dentist with perform a visual examination and look for signs of oral cancer during your regular cleaning and check-up visit.
What does the dentist look for?
During this screening, your dentist is looking for signs and symptoms of early oral cancer. According the the Canadian Dental Association, these can include:
- White or dark red patches around your mouth or on your lips or tongue
- Lumps or changes in texture
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
What happens if my dentist suspects oral cancer?
If your dentist recognizes a sign of early oral cancer, he or she will direct you with the appropriate course of action. This can include further tests, or referrals to other professionals. Often, this may include biopsies, imaging and treatments.
How often should i schedule an Oral Cancer Screening?
As previously mentioned, oral cancer screening should be done at each dentist checkup. Most dentists recommend cleanings at least every 6 months. If you are at a higher risk of oral cancer, due to consumption of tobacco products, heavy alcohol consumption, or family history, you may wish to talk to your dentist and inquire about more frequent checkups.
Dental care is not just about your teeth. Dentists focus on the health of your whole mouth. If it has been awhile since your last visit to the dentist, perhaps now is the time to make an appointment. Your oral health is interconnected to your entire well-being.