Early Detection Means a Longer Life
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 54,000 new cases of oral cancer in the U.S. in 2022. Fortunately early detection dramatically increases the five year relative survival rate. You may not know this, but your dentist can screen you for oral cancer so you can get an accurate diagnosis as well as the treatment you need as soon as possible. During your routine dental cleanings and exams at Mid-Valley Dental Care, the dentist Lau can help protect your health and ensure you live a longer, healthier life by providing oral cancer screenings.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral or oropharyngeal cancer refers to cancers found in the tissues and structures of the oral cavity including the lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, cheeks, throat (pharynx), sinuses, and hard and soft palate. Common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Persistent sore throat
- Feeling that something is caught at the back of the throat
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Bleeding sore on the face, neck, or mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
- Unexplained loss of feeling, pain, or numbness in the face, neck, or mouth
- Ear pain
- Lumps, bumps, or rough spots on the gums, lips, or other parts of the mouth
- Red, white, or speckled red and white patches in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing
- Changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
Our dentists encourage you to contact our Northridge office by dialing (818) 886-3500 if you notice any of these problems or if you experience any other type of dental pain.
What Is Oral Cancer Screening?
During an oral cancer screening at our Northridge office, our dentists and team will check for possible signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings can take place either during your routine dental exams or separately if you suspect you’re displaying symptoms and require an evaluation. Our team of dentists are skilled in detecting potentially cancerous tissues by using a number of different detection methods including visual/tactile exams, X-rays, dye, and lights.
During the visual/tactile portion of an oral cancer screening, your dentist will gently touch and look at your neck, face, throat, and the inside of your mouth. This is so that they can check for common visual signs of cancer such as red lumps, sores, lesions, and other visual abnormalities.
X-rays can help detect malignant growths such as tumors, which may not be visible to the naked eye. A panoramic X-ray can capture a flat image of the entire mouth, helping our dentists discern if the cancer has spread to the jaw.
Dye used in oral cancer can help identify potentially cancerous tissues. Your dentist will use the dye to paint the inside of your mouth and the dye will adhere to tissues that contain potentially abnormal cells.
Your dentist will shine a specially designed light inside of your mouth. Potentially abnormal cells will shine a different color than healthy tissues.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends you get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. Depending on your habits and your medical history, you may need to undergo an oral cancer screening more often. Your dentist can give you their opinion on how often you should have an oral cancer screening based on the information they gather during your exam.
The cost of your oral cancer screening will depend on a few factors, such as what tests your dentist deems necessary and your insurance. We encourage you to call your provider beforehand and ask them which costs they can cover. If you need help affording your test, we offer financing options, including CareCredit and LendingClub.
Every case is different and some patients have more risk factors than others. Our dentists will usually recommend you undergo routine cancer screening, since early detection often leads to more effective treatment. If potentially cancerous tissues are found, your dentist can refer you to a specialist for accurate diagnosis and treatment if necessary.
Oral Cancer Screenings Can Protect Your Overall Health
With early detection, your chances of surviving oral cancer dramatically increase and treatment itself becomes much easier. That’s why the dentists at Mid-Valley Dental Care highly recommend regular oral cancer screenings. Doctors Terence, Casey, and Kayla Lau are proud to offer their years of expertise to their patients from Northridge, as well as the surrounding areas of Granada Hills, North Hills, and Winnetka.
To learn more about how oral cancer screenings can protect not just your oral, but overall health, contact Mid-Valley Dental Care’s Northridge office by dialing (818) 886-3500. You can also submit our easy to use contact form and a friendly team member will get back to you shortly. We look forward to seeing you in our office and helping you enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile!