Oral Cancer Screenings Specialist

Morrow County Dental

General Dentists & Orthodontists located in Mount Gilead, OH

It’s estimated that about 50,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed yearly. The keys to surviving oral cancer are early detection, so you can get treated before the condition has time to spread. Dr. Leslie McDougall at Morrow County Dental encourages you to get regular oral cancer screenings every six months, which she performs when you come in for a dental exam. If you notice any sores on your lips or in your mouth, please call her office in Mount Gilead, Ohio, to book an appointment.

Oral Cancer Screenings Q & A

What is oral cancer?

Cancer develops when cells grow abnormally. Oral cancer includes cancer that develops in your:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Gums
  • Inner lining of cheeks
  • Roof of mouth
  • Floor of mouth

Are you at risk for oral cancer?

While anyone can develop oral cancer, the following factors increase your risk:

  • Tobacco use of any kind
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excessive sun exposure to your lips
  • Exposure to a sexually-transmitted human papillomavirus
  • Weak immune system

Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for getting oral cancer, although your chances are highest if you use tobacco and abuse alcohol.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

In the early stages, oral cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms. When they begin to develop, you may experience:

  • Sores on your lips, gums, or inside of your mouth that bleed or don’t heal
  • Lump or thickening in your cheek
  • Loss of feeling or numbness in your mouth
  • White or red patches on your gums, tongue, or inside your mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
  • Sore throat
  • Changes in your voice

Why is it important to be screened for oral cancer?

In most cases, a non-cancerous lesion appears before cells turn into cancer. As a result, precancerous changes can be caught at an early stage and fully treated before you develop cancer.

After cells turn cancerous, however, oral cancer can spread quickly. That’s why it’s so important to get routine oral cancer screenings.

When does your dentist screen for cancer?

Your dentist at Morrow County Dental is the first line of defense against oral cancer. Every time you go in for a routine dental check-up, cancer screening can be performed. It only takes a few minutes and it’s pain-free.

Several mouth sores, such as a herpes simplex ulcer, can mimic cancer, so if your dentist discovers a sore, additional tests such as a biopsy may be necessary.

While getting a dental exam every six months is the best way to be screened for cancer, it’s also important to call and schedule an appointment right away if you notice: (See Ref 1, paras 11, 12)

Leukoplakia

White patch on the inside of your mouth. It’s common in people who use tobacco and alcohol, but it can be precancerous.

Erythroplakia

A red, raised patch you may notice on the inside of your mouth. In most cases, erythroplakia is precancerous, which means it leads to cancer.