The Importance of Routine Oral Cancer Screening
At Charleston Center for Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry, LLC, we are concerned about your overall wellness, in addition to your healthy teeth. For this reason, Dr. John Rink will perform an oral cancer screening during every routine exam at his Charleston, SC, practice. During your appointment, he will examine your gums and soft tissues, looking for any lesions or unusual patches that may indicate precancerous or cancerous conditions. Early detection is essential to beating this disease, so it is vital that you schedule regular visits.
Oral cancer screening consists of a visual and tactile exam of your oral cavity, including your lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, and the floor and roof of your mouth.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can affect any of the soft tissues in your mouth, including your lips, tongue, soft palate, and gums. Like other forms of cancer, this condition occurs when cells begin to multiply too rapidly, leading to irregular growths. The signs of oral cancer can include:
- Red or white patches inside your mouth
- Sores that will not heal
- Lumps inside your mouth or a thickening of the soft tissues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your dentures fit
- Pain when chewing or swallowing
- Chronic sore throat
The disease can affect anyone. However, you face a much higher risk for oral cancer if you are a current or past smoker. You are also more likely to develop the condition if you have a family history of cancer, you drink large amounts of alcohol, or you have been exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Early detection is key to beating oral cancer. When patients receive a timely diagnosis and appropriate care, they typically have very good prospects.
What Happens during an Oral Cancer Screening?
During your oral cancer screening, Dr. Rink will carefully examine the inside of your mouth, looking for any symptoms. He will also conduct a tactile exam to check for thickening or hardening of the tissues. He works very thoroughly and will even check the top, bottom, and sides of your tongue. If he sees any cause for concern, he will usually send you to a specialist for a biopsy. This practitioner will take a small tissue sample and test it for the presence of cancer. Not all oral sores are cancerous, and many of them will turn out to be harmless. However, if you are diagnosed with cancer, it is important to visit an oncologist or another specialist right away. Dr. Rink will continue to provide appropriate treatment to maintain teeth and gums during this time.
The Importance of Timely Diagnosis
Oral cancer is a serious disease. Left untreated, it can quickly move to the nearby lymph nodes. From there, it can spread throughout your body. When this occurs, the disease is often fatal. Fortunately, however, early detection is key to beating oral cancer. When patients receive a timely diagnosis and appropriate care, they typically have very good prospects. Therefore, Dr. Rink’s biannual screenings could help save your life.
Contact Us for Additional Information
Almost 42,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral and throat cancers each year. If you are experiencing the potential symptoms of oral cancer, or if it is simply time for a routine checkup, contact our office today to book your screening.