In recent years, the survival rate for most cancers has been rising rapidly. That’s good news, but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case for oral cancer, which, depending on the study, whose survival rate is not rising as rapidly. Some studies even suggest it may be falling. Much of the problem is that oral cancer screening has not expanded as much as other cancers. Early detection is the key for improving the chance of survival for all cancer patients. To help protect our patients, every dental exam at Oasis Dental Arts includes an oral cancer exam.
If you are looking for a regular dentist in Scripps Ranch that can help with preventive dentistry and oral health treatments like oral cancer screening, please call (858) 271-1010 or contact us online and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ramin Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
There are some risk factors that can increase your risk of oral cancer. People with any of these risk factors should make sure and get screened for oral cancer:
- Any kind of tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, and more)
- Heavy alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- Age 40
- Diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables
Some of these risk factors accentuate one another. Use of tobacco and alcohol together can dramatically increase your risk of oral cancer. And your risk from any factors increases significantly with age.
However, it should be noted that many people who develop oral cancer have no risk factors whatsoever. That’s why it’s important for everyone to get screened for oral cancer.
How Oral Cancer Screening Is Done
During your exam, we will start by asking you about any new or unusual symptoms you may be experiencing. Make sure you report any unusual symptoms you have noticed, such as:
- Sores, lumps, swelling, or areas of changed texture anywhere in your mouth
- Red or white lesions in your mouth
- Swellings that interfere with restorations, teeth, or orthodontic appliances
- Numbness, pain, or sensitivity in your mouth
- Pain or pulsatile tinnitus (regular sound, like a heartbeat) in one ear without hearing loss
- Loose teeth unrelated to gum disease or tooth infection
- Sore throat or hoarseness that lingers
- Feeling of an obstruction in your throat when there’s nothing there
However, with screening, we are hoping to catch oral cancer before it begins to show symptoms. So even if you don’t report symptoms, we’ll look for signs of oral cancer, providing a complete inspection of your:
- Salivary glands
We will perform a close exam so that we’re most likely to catch any suspicious developments.
What If We Find Something?
Many people worry about what happens next after we find a suspicious lesion. The truth is that in most cases, it’s still no cause for alarm. But it is cause for taking further action.
There are different steps we can take. Some suspicious lesions are just normal mouth sores that may heal up on their own. If your sore looks like it might be this, we’ll ask you to come back in a week or two later to see how things are progressing.
If your sores haven’t healed at that time–or don’t look like normal mouth sores–we’ll refer you for further testing.
The definitive test for cancer is a biopsy, in which cells are taken from the specific region so they can be analyzed. This will tell us whether your lesion is cancer or something else. At that point, we can decide the best course of treatment.
Are You Looking for a Dentist Dedicated to Your Health?
If you’re looking for a Scripps Ranch dentist who is always trying to help improve your health, please call (858) 271-1010 today for an appointment with Dr. Ramin Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts.