By performing regular oral cancer screenings, we can detect potential concerns or abnormalities in their earliest and most treatable stages. Early diagnosis can result in more predictable and less invasive treatment, which is why we recommend our patients schedule checkups every six months. The oral cancer screening process at our Valdosta, GA, family dental practice is typically quick and simple, and can be performed in a matter of minutes. During your routine examination, Dr. Brett Hester can inspect your gums, cheeks, tongue, and throat, as well as review your medical history to identify signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several symptoms that can point to oral cancer. As early detection is vital for effective treatment, you should schedule a screening immediately if you notice:
- Lumps or Bumps: This includes any irregularities located on the cheeks, tongue, lips, gums, throat, and roof of the mouth.
- White or Red Patches: Discoloration can appear in or around the mouth.
- Bleeding Sores: Sores can occur in the mouth or on the lips, face, and neck.
- Unexplained Numbness: This can manifest as spontaneous loss of feeling in the mouth or face.
- Bite Changes: Sudden differences in the way your teeth fit together can occur.
- Decrease in Function: This can include difficulty chewing, eating, or speaking.
- Chronic Sore Throat: An unexplained or constant sore throat could relate to more serious underlying conditions.
- Hoarseness: This may include a sudden change in your voice or hoarseness with no explanation.
- Loose Teeth: A variety of factors can contribute to tooth mobility. However, you should be particularly wary of teeth that have become loose for no apparent reason.
Our team can carefully review any signs of oral cancer and conduct a thorough evaluation to pinpoint the source of your concern.
Preventive care is vital to proper diagnosis and treatment. Risk Factors The causes of oral cancer range from genetic factors to lifestyle choices.
By understanding the risk factors, you can help decrease your chances of developing this condition. Common risk factors include:
- Tobacco Use: Patients who smoke are much more likely to develop oral cancer. In addition, 80 percent of those with oral cancer use tobacco in some form.
- Excessive Drinking: Alcohol consumption is linked to oral cancer. Moderation is recommended.
- UV Radiation: Excessive sun exposure, particularly at a young age, can result in cancer of the lip.
- HPV: Certain strains of the human papillomavirus can increase the risk of oral cancer.
- Heredity: Due to family history, some people are genetically predisposed to developing oral cancer.
During your exam, we can assess your medical history to determine if you are at a greater risk of developing oral cancer. We can also recommend lifestyle changes that can decrease your odds.
What to Expect during an Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are fairly simple and non-invasive. Dr. Hester will visually assess all aspects of your oral cavity and palpate certain areas to feel for any irregularities. During a routine oral cancer screening, we can evaluate the:
- Hard and soft palate
- Floor of the mouth
During this time, we can also answer questions and address any concerns you may have regarding oral cancer.
Schedule an Examination Today
Preventive care is vital to proper diagnosis and treatment. As such, we perform oral cancer screenings at routine visits. However, if you notice any troublesome signs or symptoms, contact us today to make an appointment. You can call our practice at (229) 247-3400 or message us online.