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APRIL IS ORAL CANCER MONTH – But Dr. Still checks for it at every dental exam!

During your next checkup at Smile Sarasota, you may want to pay attention the oral cancer screening Dr. Still does to see if you are at risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings are designed to try to catch the early signs of oral cancer before they progress to a more advanced stage.

Oral cancer screenings are important because oral cancer can be successfully treated if caught early enough. Approximately 84% of oral cancer cases can be detected early by a dental health professional.  When Dr. Still does an oral cancer screening, he looks for any discoloration or mouth sores in your mouth. They he feels the tissues around your mouth for lumps or abnormalities. If he detects any form of abnormality in your mouth, they will send a sample of it to a lab for further testing.

What are the risk factors for oral cancer? Here are some key risk factors for oral cancer to help you determine if you are at risk:

  • Age (People over 40 are more at risk)
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Gender (Men are more susceptible than women)
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Prologued sun exposure

Although it is proven that people who have been diagnosed with oral cancer usually have at least one of these risk factors, there is a growing rate of people that are diagnosed with oral cancer who have no risk factors at all. Therefore, if you don’t have any of the factors above, oral cancer screenings are still important in maintaining your overall health. When Dr. Still does an oral cancer screening, he look s for the following symptoms:

  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Spots that continuously bleed or don’t heal
  • A lump or a hard spot in your mouth
  • Numbness or pain when you bite down on your teeth

The best way to prevent oral cancer is through regular oral cancer screenings during your checkups. Dr. Still  won’t be able to fully diagnose you during the exam, but if he suspects something, he will refer you to an oral surgeon who will send a sample of your tissue to a lab to determine if it is cancer. Once the oral surgeon receives the lab results confirming oral cancer, they can start to treat the cancer before it progresses. Oral cancer screening can’t detect all mouth cancers. However, screening for oral cancer may help find cancers early — when cure is more likely.


Sources and Credits: Mayo Clinic, Oral Cancer Foundation