Oral Cancer: What You Need to Know

We know cancer is an uncomfortable subject. However, at North Coast Dental Excellence, we want our patients to have facts rather than fear. Sharing this information on oral cancer is part of our ongoing efforts to equip our patients to be full partners in their healthcare.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Cancer found in and around the mouth is considered oral cancer. It may affect the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, floor of the mouth, lips, or the inner linings of the cheeks. Oral cancer is one type of head and neck cancer.

Who Is at Risk?

In one sense, all of us are at risk for oral cancer because twenty-five percent of oral cancer patients did not have risk factors for it. Factors that put you at greater risk for developing oral cancer include using tobacco in any form, drinking heavily, and having excessive sun exposure. Also, having certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) raises your chance of being diagnosed with oral cancer.

Screening for Oral Cancer

We can’t overstate the importance of regular dental exams. During your routine dental visit, we do more than care for your teeth. We also perform an oral cancer screening. There’s a visual examination during the screening in which we look for abnormalities like white patches, red patches, and sores. We also do a tactile examination to search for lumps. Finally, we have a special scanner that detects abnormalities that are not easily seen with the naked eye.

We provide an oral cancer screening as part of your routine dental visit because we want to detect oral cancer early. Patients who are diagnosed early have a far higher survival rate (75 percent) than patients diagnosed late (20 percent). Insurance usually covers the visual and tactile oral cancer screening as part of your routine dental visit. You may want to contact your insurer to see if you have coverage for the scanning service.

Learn More About Oral Cancer

At North Coast Dental Excellence, we offer early screening and scanning services to detect oral cancer. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.