On average, one patient every hour dies from oral cancer. 50% of those diagnosed this year with oral cancer will not survive past five years. Research indicates that the best way to reduce the numbers of annual deaths caused by oral cancer is to provide earlier diagnosis. For this reason, physicians and dentists have started to take more time to screen for oral cancer. At White Willow Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer oral cancer screenings as part of patients’ twice a year dental exams. If you would like to learn more about oral cancer screenings or any of our other services, call our Scarborough dental office to schedule an appointment with us.

I Don’t Smoke. Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?

Yes. While smoking and tobacco use are the most commonly associated causes of oral cancer, they are not the only reasons patients suffer from this disease. In fact, nearly 25% of all people diagnosed with oral cancer do not engage in any of the high risk behaviors that often lead to this disease. For this reason, we encourage every patient to undergo regular oral cancer screenings to ensure we can diagnose this disease in its earliest stages when treatment is most effective.

What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screenings are completely comfortable. In fact, you may not even notice it happened. We simply visually examine your oral and facial structures for warning signs of this disease. We will also ask you a series of questions to help us better understand your situation and risk for oral cancers. If we notice anything indicative of oral cancer, we will work with you to consider options for further treatment.

Is There Anything I can do to Avoid Oral Cancer?

There are many habits that can increase patients’ risk for oral cancer. Smoking and tobacco use are the most common causes of oral cancer. However, excessive alcohol consumption is also a behavior that increases your risk. If you suffer from HPV, you are also at greater risk.

What are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?

With regular six month oral cancer screenings, we should be able to provide accurate diagnosis in the earliest stages. However, please let our team know right away if you notice any of the following warning signs of oral cancer:

  • Changes in the color or texture of soft tissue
  • Oral infection or sores that do not clear up
  • Hard bumps or lumps in soft tissue
  • Difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice, or sore throat
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes

What Happens if the Dentist Finds Potentially Cancerous Tissue?

If we discover abnormal cells during your oral cancer screening, our team will partner with you to receive a biopsy and begin treatment if necessary with a cancer specialist. We will continue to help you maintain your healthy smile throughout your treatment, and partner with your physicians to ensure your oral and overall health are maximized.