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, your Richland dental office is the first line of defense for early detection.
As the premier oral health experts in Richland, Washington we take our role in your overall health to heart at Midtown Dental Clinic. Every routine dental exam that Dr. Kristina Bunch and Dr. Chris Kleist performs includes more than diagnostic x-rays and a thorough cleaning. Drs. Bunch and Kleist will also complete a potentially lifesaving mouth cancer screening that is executed with the sole purpose of identifying cancer early enough to significantly increase the chances of a full recovery.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral or mouth cancer reveals itself as a growth or sore in the mouth or throat that doesn’t go away with time. Oral cancer symptoms include:
- Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
- Swelling or thickening of areas inside the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding
- Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal
- Chronic sore throat
- A change in the way your dentures fit
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
Our oral cancer screenings consist of a verbal, visual, and physical examination, and they include the following:
- A thorough review of your oral health history, as well as your overall health history, which includes questions that help assess your level of risk for mouth cancer
- 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
- A check for suspicious lumps by palpating your mouth, jaw, and neck
Though most sores (one of the primary signs of oral cancer) are noncancerous, the screening alone can’t determine this. If an abnormality is found, Dr. Bunch or Dr. Kleist may perform a biopsy (remove some cells for testing) or refer you to a mouth cancer specialist.
Q. How often should I be screened for oral cancer?
A. You should be screened at every routine dental visit.
Q. If I am found to have mouth cancer, what do I do?
A. If you are diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Bunch or Dr. Kleist will refer you to a specialist so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible.
Q. How do you treat oral cancer?
A. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will be sent to a doctor who specializes in treating oral cancer. Treatment typically consists of removal of the cancerous growth followed by radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
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.