In most cases, we will check for signs of oral cancer during your regular visit for a professional cleaning and exam. We can also do an oral cancer screening as a separate appointment. These screenings are very important because oral cancer is much easier to treat if it is caught early. There are as many as three million oral cancer cases each year, and it can be life-threatening if it is not treated as soon as possible.
What can I expect?During an oral cancer screening, the areas of your mouth susceptible to oral cancer (including your hard palate, throat, floor of mouth, lips, cheek lining, tongue, and gums) are visually inspected by our dentist for signs of cancer.
Am I at risk?Many patients are at an increased risk for oral cancer, including patients who smoke or drink alcohol and those with a family history of oral cancer. Our dentist encourages these patients to make an appointment for an oral cancer screening if they have not had one already during a regular exam. However, over 25 percent of oral cancer cases occur in patients who do not smoke, so regular screenings are important for every patient. There are some possible symptoms of oral cancer that you may notice. You should contact our dental office in Encino, CA if you experience any of these symptoms and they do not go away on their own after two weeks:
- Numbness, pain, or tenderness in the mouth or lips
- White or red patches in the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- An irritation or sore on your neck or face
- Trouble speaking, swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- A change in your bite
- A change in how your teeth (or dentures) fit together
- A rough spot, crust, lump, or eroded area in the mouth, face, or neck