Oral cancer screenings in Reno

Oral cancer is characterized by malignant cells developing in the mouth and surrounding areas. If not detected in the early stages, there is a high risk these cancerous cells will spread to other parts of the body. Oral cancer screenings can potentially detect these malignant cells earlier on, so the patient has the best chances for treatment and recovery.

Early Detection of Oral Cancer with Absolute Dental

As reported by the American Dental Association, oral cancer has an exceptionally high mortality rate. Reports estimate nearly 35,000 people in the United States are diagnosed yearly with oral cancer, and about 25 percent of those diagnosed are not expected to recover. This can be attributed to lack of cancer screening and diagnosing the disease too late. If the cancer is not detected early, chances are the cancerous cells have already spread and are affecting other areas of the body. Once this occurs, the ability to fight abnormal or diseased cells is highly compromised. Because oral cancer screenings are the best way to detect malignant cells in the mouth in the early stages, our Reno dental offices offer specialized testing to help patients stay on top of their oral health.

Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?

The important thing to remember is oral cancer can happen to anyone. For this reason, everyone should practice visual inspections of their teeth, gums, and mouth during daily brushing and flossing. If you happen to notice anything unusual or experience sudden growths or discolorations, it’s a good idea to schedule an oral cancer screening with your Absolute Dental office right away.

In addition, there are factors involved that could put you at higher risk for oral cancer. This includes smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive drinking of alcohol or people who have a history of cancer. Also, those who do not balance their diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, or fail to exercise regularly, have a higher risk of cancer. Those who happen to fall into any one of these categories should consider an oral cancer screening as soon as possible. Sometimes cancerous cells can be present even if there are no visual signs or symptoms.

What is Involved with an Oral Cancer Screening?

Dentist examining mouth of patient

An oral cancer screening is a special examination designed to test for cancerous, or squamous, cells in the mouth and surrounding areas. This test includes a number of elements, starting with a basic dental exam to look for the following symptoms:

  • Leukoplakia, or white patches in the mouth, that are a pre-cancerous symptom
  • Chronic sores on the lips or inside the mouth
  • Progressive loosening of the teeth
  • Irritated, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Blood around the tongue, teeth and other areas of the mouth

The dentist will also take x-rays of the mouth and review the patient’s full medical history. If anything suspicious is found during the exam, a biopsy may be conducted to get a sample of the tissue for further evaluation. In most cases, this procedure is performed under anesthesia and the patient will not experience any discomfort. Other potential symptoms your dentist will ask about include earaches and trouble chewing or swallowing.

What if Oral Cancer is Detected?

If your biopsy test comes back with positive results for oral cancer, a treatment strategy should be planned right away. This may include treatment of pre-existing dental issues that could potentially be affected by radiation treatments. Because the teeth and jaw bones can become dry and brittle due to damaged salivary glands, complications such as cavities or fractures can occur during oral cancer treatment. Your dentist will work with you to stabilize any oral problems prior to starting radiation treatment to prevent as much damage as possible.

Absolute Dental in Reno is dedicated to providing the best oral healthcare as possible. We work with our patients to build strong oral hygiene practices that will lead to a promising, healthy future. If your dentist recommends an oral cancer screening, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer or there’s a reason to worry. Our dentists have the best intentions and could suggest a screening simply because you are in a high-risk category and hope to catch any symptoms as early as possible. Early detection is crucial for successful oral cancer treatment and it will only benefit you in the long run. It’s always best to listen to your dentist’s recommendations and follow through with all instructions given to you regarding oral cancer screenings. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an early-detection oral cancer screening, reach out to our Reno offices for an appointment.

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