Your oral health is important to us, and that includes more than just your teeth! During your dental cleaning, we will conduct an exam to determine the level of your oral health. We will also review your medical history to determine if you are at risk of developing oral cancer.
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are conducted by our doctors to look for cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. Ideally, we try to spot any symptoms early, so we recommend that patients to stay up to date on their six-month dental exams. Please communicate any health concerns with your dentist and stay up to date on your dental & medical history form.
- Canker sores that last longer than 2 weeks.
- Discoloration of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, cheeks or lips
- Chronic oral or tonsil pain associated with lumps
- Throat soreness and hoarseness with difficulty swallowing
- Ear ache on one side
- Tobacco use accounts for 85% of head and neck cancer
- Heavy alcohol consumption, which is defined by consuming more than 21 drinks per week. Alcohol abuse combined with tobacco puts patients at more risk of developing oral cancer.
- The human papilloma virus (HPV) has nine strains that are associated with oral cancer, particularly the HPV16 strain being the source of most oral cancers.
- UV exposure may cause lip cancer with lighter skin is more at risk for developing lip cancer. Wear lip balm with sunscreen and utilize a UV index app to forecast UV radiation in your local area.
- However, darker skin can also get skin cancer. Latinos and certain Asian groups can develop Basal Cell Carcinoma, whereas people of African or Indian descent are at risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. For more information, visit: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/can-darker-skinned-people-get-skin-cancer
- Weakened immune system
- Prevent excessive sun exposure by wearing sunscreen (lip balm with sunscreen) and avoiding times when the UV index is high. Here is a link to apps that will alert you to high UV exposure.
- Limit your alcohol intake and stop smoking
- Get an HPV vaccine and practice safe sex
- Eat a healthy diet
- Practice good oral hygiene
- Don’t skip your bi-annual dental exams
- If you are at risk due to medical history, you will want to have more than two exams annually
Patient Dental and Medical History Form
If you are a new patient or need to update your dental history form to be more accurate, download this PDF and bring it with you during your next dental visit or email us your patient information.