According to the American Dental Association, 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. With 60% of the U.S. population visiting the dentist each year, the dental community is the first line of defense in early detection.
At Smith & Wetterhus Dentistry, we take our role in your overall health to heart. Every routine dental exam that you receive from us includes more than diagnostic x-rays and a thorough cleaning: we also perform a potentially life-saving oral cancer screening that consists of a verbal, visual, and physical examination. These examinations are performed with the sole purpose of identifying cancer early enough to significantly increase the chances of a full recovery.
Our oral cancer screenings include a thorough review of your oral health history with us as well as your overall health history, which includes questions that help assess your level of risk. Next comes a visual inspection of all the areas of your mouth and throat in an effort to locate any abnormalities, such as sores and red or white patches. This inspection includes the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and far-back section of your tongue. Finally, your dentist will check for suspicious lumps by palpating your mouth, jaw, and neck. Though most sores are noncancerous, the screening by itself can’t determine this. If an abnormality is found, your dentist may perform a biopsy (remove some cells for testing) or refer you to a specialist.
Maintaining your routine dental visits with us ensures your smile continues to sparkle, but it also vastly improves the chance that abnormalities in your mouth will be caught early, which increases your chances of successful treatment should any be cancerous.