What is an Oral Cancer Screening?

Happy Mother and Daughter in Snow
Oral cancer can occur in any of the components that make up the mouth (the oral cavity). Approximately 90% of oral cancers are a type called squamous cell carcinomas. About 91,200 people are living with oral cancer in the US, and approximately 37,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. The good news is, when detected early, during dental visits, oral cancer has an 80-90% survival rate.

Who is at Risk for Oral Cancer?
You will be at a higher risk of developing oral cancer if you engage in any of the following:
·       Tobacco use of any kind.
·       Heavy use of alcohol.
·       Significant exposure to the sun (lip cancer).

When Should I Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
Early on, it is difficult to know that oral cancer is developing. You may notice a red or white patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small ulcer that looks like a common canker sore. However, if you have a sore or discolored area anywhere in your mouth that has not healed after fourteen days, visit your dentist immediately.
Other symptoms include:
·       A mass or lump inside the mouth.
·       Difficulty or pain when swallowing, chewing, or speaking.
·       Hoarseness which doesn’t go away.
·       Numbness in the mouth or face.
·       Persistent earache.

What do Dentists Look for During an Oral Cancer Screening?
Specialized dentistry services include oral cancer screening. The dentist will look for precancerous conditions or signs of cancer itself.  He will feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities. If your dentist does find sores, he may remove some of these abnormal cells for a biopsy.
Is the Screening Painful and How Long Does it Take? – Oral cancer screening is a quick and easy procedure and is not painful. If your dentist needs to take some tissue samples, he will numb the spot in your mouth first, so all you’ll feel is a slight pinch.
Is Oral Cancer Screening Covered by Dental Insurance?
Some medical or dental insurance plans do cover oral cancer screenings. In addition, flex-spending accounts and health savings accounts (FSA and HSA) will reimburse you for the procedure. If you find that the screening is not covered, most dentistry services provide flexible payment plans.

If you live in the area of Colorado Springs, Hollow Brook Dental includes oral cancer screening during your regular hygiene visits. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the greater chance there is for a cure. So, be safe and schedule your next regular checkup. Make an appointment with us today.
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