As the name suggests, oral cancer screening is a screening performed by a dentist to look for signs or symptoms of cancer in your mouth. The main goal of an oral cancer screening is to determine any signs of cancer in your mouth at an early stage so that there are higher chances of curing it. Screening and detection of early signs of oral cancer may increase survival rates to up to 90 percent. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Oral cancer screening can determine signs that may not be visible to the naked eye, such as cancerous abnormal tissue which can only be detected using a device called VELscope. Sometimes, what appears to be a regular spot in your mouth, could be a precancerous symptom. Other early onset signs of oral cancer may include discoloration in your oral tissues, a change in your biting patterns, oral sores and red spots in your mouth. These are signs that we may overlook easily, but any dentist in Orlando will be able to make the right diagnosis for you.
What are the risk factors that could lead to oral cancer? Although less prevalent in children and young adults, individuals over the age of 45 and above are often at a greater risk. It is a known fact that tobacco and alcohol are the most important risk factors that lead to oral cancer. The use of tobacco is linked to most cases of oral cancer. Tobacco in any form such as chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars or pipes is a major risk factor for oral cancer. Tobacco from cigarettes, cigars or pipes leads to cancer of the lip while smokeless tobacco like chewing tobacco causes cancer of the gums and cheeks as these are the most common areas the tobacco comes in contact with when in use. Tobacco when consumed with alcohol also increases the risk for oral cancer. Consumption of alcohol by itself is also a leading cause for oral cancer.
Another cause of oral cancer is over exposure to the sun, which results in lip cancer. This is particularly true for people who work long hours in the sun such as construction sites, farms, etc. It is common for the lower lip to be at greater risk of cancer as it is more likely to be exposed to the sun. Another reason that could lead to oral cancer is following a diet that is low in fruit and vegetables leading to a reduced intake of substances such as carotenoids. A weak immune system is also a possible risk factor that causes oral cancer, especially lip cancer.
Lack of proper oral hygiene and dental care is also a risk factor in developing oral cancer. It can lead to issues like loss of teeth, bleeding gums, chronic bacterial infections or viruses such as HPV (Human Papilomavirus). It is extremely important to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine to avoid any risk of oral cancer. Another unavoidable risk factor is inherited genetics or a family history of cancer. Under these circumstances, if there is a history of cancer in the family, it could be passed on from generation to generation through your genes.
Lately there has been an unfortunate increase in the number of oral cancer cases in individuals with no risk factors known to cause oral cancer such as consumption of alcohol and smoking, or genetics. Therefore, it is extremely vital to visit a dentist near you in Davie at least once a year to have a screening for oral cancer.