The scariest word for people to hear these days is CANCER. The plight of being diagnosed with cancer is much more than the disease itself. But many cancerous conditions are completely curable if detected and treated at an early stage. This is where the role of screening comes into play.
Cancer, as you all know, is a condition in which certain cells of the body begin to divide uncontrollably and destroy the body tissues. It mostly occurs due to specific mutations or aberrations in the process of cell division.
What is mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer or oral cancer is the condition where certain cells of any part of the oral cavity undergo mutation and begin to divide without check. Structures that are included under the oral cavity include lips, gums, tongue, buccal mucosa, roof or mouth, and floor of the mouth. There has been a sudden spike in the people with mouth and throat cancers in the previous few years due to unknown reasons.
Oral cancer screening: Aims and objectives
The primary aim of oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancers or any pre-cancerous lesion at the earliest possible by regular check-ups. Early detection is associated with a good prognosis, and many cancers are completely curable without any permanent debilitation if intervention is done at the right time.
The screening can be done at the time of routine check-ups. Those who are at high risk should be more active in getting themselves screened for mouth cancers.
People may be negligent towards their oral health and may fail to identify any pre-cancerous lesions or abnormality. It is therefore recommended that everyone, with or without risk factors, should be observant towards their oral health and maintain good oral hygiene.
What is the role of a dentist in mouth cancer screening?
Dentists are not just to take care of your teeth. A dentist is a professional practitioner who is well versed with the complete physiology and anatomy of the entire oral cavity. Their primary concern is to deal with the teeth as well as all the structures adjacent to it. This makes dentists the perfect candidates for mouth cancer screening.
Apart from this, people regularly visit the dentist for routine oral check-ups, and that is when screening can be done. No special visits would be required for screening.
Dentists are also skilled in performing oral and maxillofacial surgeries, and therefore, they can not only screen but also treat oral cancers. The treatment, however, will require the consultation from an oncologist.
How is mouth cancer screening done?
The screening is a short and simple process that will take not more than 10-15 minutes. It is a thorough visual and physical evaluation of all the structure of your oral cavity, including lips, gums, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, the roof of mouth and throat. The aim is to palpate any lump or aberration in the mouth. The dentist does it by manual or digital examination. If required, special instruments may be used for screening. The dentist should be highly proficient in identifying these abnormal lesions.
What signs need attention during the screening process?
While evaluating the oral cavity, the following signs need special attention.
-Any lump or sore like lesion, eroded areas in any part of the oral cavity.
-Tenderness over the gums
-Hemorrhagic areas which are not due to trauma
-White or red coloured patches
-Numbness or increased sensitivity in any area of oral cavity, head or neck
-Difficulty or pain during chewing, or swallowing
-Non-healing persistent ulcers
What should you expect?
Screening is done as a part of routine oral examination at Conway House Dental Practice. However, our dentist will tell you how often you should visit for follow-up depending on his examination findings during screening as well as your health status. If he notices anything abnormal, he will ask you to visit more frequently to keep track of that abnormal lesion. He will also guide you and encourage you to avoid high-risk activities such as tobacco consumption, alcohol consumption, excess sunlight exposure, or unprotected sex. The friendly nature of dentists at Conway House will help you in sharing your issues with ease and you can stay assured of efficient and effective guidance from them.
Who are the High-risk individuals?
The people who are prone to develop cancer should be more vigilant of their oral health as compared to those without any risk factor. You should visit your dentist routinely and also learn to keep a check on your oral cavity yourself so that if you notice anything unusual, quick action can be taken.
- Tobacco consumers: People who consume tobacco in any form are at a very high risk of developing mouth cancer. Tobacco consumption can be in the form of smoking, chewing, using cigars, pipes, or snuffing.
- Alcoholics: High intake of alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer manifold.
- Past history: A person who has a history of oral cancer or a family history of a person with oral cancer is more likely to develop mouth cancer in future.
- Exposure to sun: Those who spend a greater part of their day in the sunlight are at risk. The rays of the sun along with the UV radiations, increase the risk of mutations and therefore, oral cancers. Studies have shown that excessive sun exposure is mostly linked to lip cancers.
- HPV infection: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can infect a person during oral sex. It is highly associated with oral cancers.
If you have any of the above risk factors and want to get yourself screened, visit Conway House Dental Practice in High Wycombe, the best dental practice in town. Our friendly and highly skilled staff will help you in solving all your oral cavity related troubles. For any further assistance, you can call our reception and book an appointment with our dentist.