Are you a former smoker or chewer of tobacco? Does your family have a history of cancer? Here are some reasons to get an oral cancer screening from your dentist:
Knowledge: Your dentist is trained to know what a normal mouth should look like. Their schooling taught them which oral irregularities are something to be concerned about. They know that their visual examinations can help to find if your taste buds are oddly shaped or swollen because of cancer, or if you have an infection treatable with antibiotics. They can look at the tissue of your cheek or upper palate to see if its precancerous. Their knowledge of what is normal and what is abnormal will allow them to make a judgement as to whether or not further testing is required.
Tools: Since your dentist spends all day looking into people's mouths, they will already have the tools available to give your mouth a more thorough check. They may do things like swab part of your mouth to get results from a lab. They will also check your dental X-rays for signs of anything abnormal and recommend further testing if they spot anything.
Time: If you're already visiting your dentist for regular checkups, cancer screening should take little to no additional time. If you want your appointments to include cancer checks, simply let your dentist know ahead of time. This will give him or her time to prepare, such as by pulling out your previous X-rays for reference. They may also want to have a swab or other type of testing kit available, in case they see anything that might need to be tested.
Security: As you're probably aware, cancer is more easily treated and beaten with early detection and treatment. The dentist knows which risk factors could increase your chances of cancer. He or she will be able to explain to you why they need to know whether you've ever used chewing tobacco, cigars, or pipes. They'll help you to understand how your alcohol consumption can increase your risks. They can tell you how too much sunlight can cause lip cancer, and help you learn ways to lessen your exposure. They can explain all this while explaining how these factors also impact your overall dental health, so that you can understand that avoiding these risks can help your overall dental health.
While you may already be getting lung, breast, colon or other types of cancer screenings, those types of screenings may not reveal oral cancer. For early detection of possible oral cancer, speak to a dentist like Malwin & Malwin Family Dentistry.