Oral Cancer Screening

At General & Cosmetic Dentistry of Tampa, we not only address aesthetic issues with your smile, but we also strive to maintain the overall health of your mouth. We include screenings with our routine exams to check for any signs and symptoms of oral cancer. The early detection of cancer cells and abnormal tissue growths and early diagnosis of oral cancer is essential to successfully treating the disease.

What Are the Risk Factors for Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancers?

According to National Cancer Institute, some of the risk factors for oral and oropharyngeal cancers include:

  • Tobacco use including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly in combination with tobacco use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Fair skin and a history of too much sun exposure
  • Age
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Weakened immune system

That being said, if you are someone who falls under any of these risk factors, it is important for you to get regular oral cancer screenings. There is an oral cancer screening dye for self-oral cancer screening that you can do at home after brushing your teeth. If the toluidine blue dye makes contact with abnormal areas, it will turn black or dark blue. Over healthy, normal tissue, nothing will happen. This is a good option if you are concerned and can’t get to the dentist right away.

How Is Oral Cancer Screening Performed?

At our practice, we typically perform a quick screening through a visual examination of your oral cavity as a whole. It also includes feeling the muscle tissue, looking for bumps and lumps. We might utilize an oral cancer screening light – a thin penlight used to detect any abnormal tissue – to check for any changes in the color or texture of the tissue as well.

If we happen to find any abnormalities or changes, we will then collect cells through a simple brushing of teeth and send them to a laboratory for further testing. If the result of the screening tests turns out to be positive or atypical, we will refer you to an oncologist to get a biopsy in order to pinpoint the diagnosis and get the mouth cancer treatment you need.

Preventive Measures You Can Take

If you fall under any of the risk factors mentioned above, there are preventive measures that you can take to help lower your chances of developing oral cancers. These include:

  • Quit or stop using all types of tobacco products. If you are not a current user, avoid using any type of tobacco product.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption, especially in combination with tobacco use.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. You can also use oral products such as rinses and mouthwashes to keep your mouth healthy.
  • Protect your lips from UV radiation either by wearing a hat or lip balm with SPF.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for routine check-ups and screenings.

The risk factors of oral cancers also put you at a higher risk of laryngeal cancer. Screening for this type of cancer must be done by a specialist.

Schedule a Screening

Don’t let oral cancer go unnoticed. If you fall under any of the risk factors, schedule an oral cancer screening with us to ensure early-stage detection and treatment of any abnormal cells present. You can call or text us at 813-960-5869 (North Tampa) and 813-874-5869 (South Tampa). You can also contact us online.