Oral cancer isn't the only disease your dentist can detect. You may be surprised that oral cancer screening doesn't just detect head and neck cancers. Dentists are frequently the first to see oral changes associated with leukemia and other systemic health problems. Your medical doctor may only see you once a year, but dentists see you twice yearly. That's why the American Dental Association and the American Cancer Society recommend that all adults undergo periodic oral exams and discuss oral cancer screenings when they visit the dentist.
We believe oral cancer screening is essential to every initial exam and recall exam. While no single test will eliminate the risk of dying from cancer, early detection expands the range of treatment options and increases the likelihood of recovery. Especially if you are a smoker, tobacco chewer, heavy alcohol drinker, or have had oral cancer, letting a dentist keep tabs on your oral health is just good sense.
We perform oral cancer screening procedures throughout your checkup. First, our hygienist checks the soft tissue and tongue for any changes. Then, when Dr. Welch comes into the room, they alert him to any concerning areas they notice, and he looks for any other potential problem areas. Sometimes, he may see something suspicious while doing a filling or reviewing a patient's regular x-rays. In addition, our Panoramic radiograph shows the entire jaw area, so we often find things we couldn't see on the individual x-rays.
If we find any area of concern during an oral cancer screening or other dental procedure, we inform the patient and refer them to an oral surgeon if needed. Of course, no one likes to hear that they have an area that needs to be checked, but early detection is the key to the successful treatment of oral and other cancers.
If you have any questions, or would like to make an appointment, call our professional dental team at (336) 288-4499.