Most people understand the importance of routinely having an oral cancer screening but may not know how often it is necessary. The primary goal of this preventive service is to detect the signs of oral cancer early. Several factors influence the frequency of when you should get screened.
Because every patient has different needs, your dental team will help determine how often you should be screened. This exam will decrease your chances of missing the signs and going through a devastating experience.
What Is Oral Cancer Screening?
Screening for oral cancer happens when a dentist conducts an exam to locate precancerous or cancerous conditions in your mouth. These conditions typically affect the mouth, tongue, and jaw.
This exam routinely happens during your routine dental checkup, and the dentist will inspect the following regions:
- Floor and roof of the mouth
- Cheek lining
They’ll examine these areas for swelling, loose teeth, unusual lumps, red patches, or discolored white tissues. They may also ask questions to learn more about potential symptoms, like unexplained changes to your voice or a constant sore throat.
How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?
The standard recommendation for oral cancer screening is at least once a year for adult patients. However, some patients require more frequent screenings. Patients with the following risk factors should have an oral cancer exam at least twice a year:
- Alcohol consumption
- Tobacco use
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- A history of oral cancer
Although you may not be exposed to these risk factors, healthy individuals can still develop oral cancer. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet reduces your chances of becoming one of the tens of thousands of patients diagnosed with this disease yearly.
Has It Been Over a Year Since Your Last Oral Cancer Screening?
If you’re due for an oral cancer screening or have a high risk of developing this disease, contact David W. Piper, DMD, at (727) 548-7100 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Piper is a General and Cosmetic Dentist who has proudly served Pinellas County since 1993. Both he and his team of professionals provide high quality, gentle dental care in a relaxed, personalized, and caring environment. Treating patients like family sets his practice apart from others.