Oral cancer can be lethal if not detected early. Your local dentist at Open Wide Dental in Phoenix is uniquely situated to be able to screen you for oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings can also identify signs of precancerous growths, allowing cancer to be stopped before it ever progresses. Your dentist checks for signs of oral cancer during every six-month exam and routine dental visit.
There isn’t one unified gold standard for a single kind of screening instrument to identify oral cancer. Instead, your dentist will conduct several kinds of screens based on your risk factors. Those with an elevated or high risk of oral cancer are more likely to benefit from screening. Factors that elevate the risk of oral cancer include:
Visual Exam. The visual exam includes the oral cavity, lips, face, neck, and inside of the nose. Anything like bumps, patches of abnormal coloration, swellings, ulcerations or sores will get a closer look.
Physical Exam. Your dentist at Open Wide Dental in Phoenix will touch under the chin, around the jaw, the head and cheeks, and in the oral cavity to feel for nodules or masses. One common sign of potential problems is immobility or stiffness in tissue that should be flexible and mobile. Whether or not you’re feeling any pain in any of the examined areas is also important, as oral cancers tend to be painful.
There are some instruments that are unique to the oral cancer screening process. The Oral CDx system uses a small brush to remove cells for analysis. The removal process is painless, and samples are sent to a highly specialized lab for testing. Dentists also use the nasopharyngolaryngoscope, which is a narrow, flexible optic fiber cable that goes through the nose and down the throat, allowing the dentist to get a good look at your pharynx and larynx. Anesthesia and numbing are used to make the process painless.
All oral cancer screenings are precautionary. Their purpose is to get ahead of any potential cancers. If we find anything suspicious, you’ll be referred for further testing. Oral cancer screenings can detect health problems that are not due to cancer.
At Open Wide Dental in Phoenix, your health is our first concern.