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The Importance Of Dental Exams For Cancer Screening

The Importance Of Dental Exams For Cancer Screening

When you visit your dentist, you probably just think that they are going to check for cavities and clean your teeth. Although this is true, they also examine your teeth and mouth for signs of health problems such as oral cancer. Oral cancer screening is an examination that is performed by your dentist to check for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Visiting your dentist is not only important to keep your teeth healthy and clean, but it is also essential to ensure your health is protected. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly (once every six months) to have these examinations performed.

Why Is Oral Cancer Screening Done?

Oral cancer is not a health concern most people think about, yet is essential not to ignore the risk. If not caught early, oral cancer can progress into other cancers and require more aggressive treatments. Your dentist may find some oral cavity or pre-cancers during a regular exam, but you should also make your dentist or dental hygienist aware of any signs or symptoms of cancer or precancerous conditions you are experiencing.

The most common sign of oral cancer is a painful sore on the inside of the mouth or on the lip that does not heal within two weeks, or the pain in the mouth does not go away. Other signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Numbness or pain when you bite down
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Swelling in the mouth
  • Crusted spots on lips or gums
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • White, red, or speckled spots in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Causes Of Oral Cancer

There is no direct cause of oral cancer, but dentists and doctors have identified certain risk factors that could possibly increase the chances of developing the disease. Men, particularly those over the age of 40, have a higher risk of developing oral cancer than women and other age groups. Other risk factors include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Sun exposure to lips
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)

What Happens If Oral Cancer Is Detected?

During your exam, your dentist will only be able to detect the signs of oral cancer, not diagnose it. If something suspicious is detected during your dental exam, your dentist will do a biopsy by taking a small sample of tissue in the area of concern and will send it to a lab to be tested. Once it is sent off, a pathologist will let your dentist know if the sample did or did not contain any cancerous cells. If cancerous cells are found, your doctor will carry out additional tests to determine what stage the cancer is at and will develop a course of treatment.

Calgary’s Most Trusted Dental Exams

If caught early enough, oral cancer can be very easily and successfully treated. For this reason, it is highly important that you visit your dentist for regular dental cleanings so they can perform oral cancer screenings to detect early signs of oral cancer. Be in control of your oral health by practicing good oral hygiene, and seeing your dentist regularly.

Dr. Korol Dental is a leading holistic and biocompatible dental practice in Calgary that offers dental cleanings, emergency dentistry, oral cancer screenings, and more. Our hygienists have the experience and expertise to provide unique cleaning solutions in tune with your body's overall needs. To book a dental exam and dental cleaning, contact our clinic by calling 1-403-245-9099, or by filling out our online contact form.


Q: How often should I visit the dentist for a dental cleaning?
A:  The Canadian Association of Dentistry recommends patients visit their dentist once every six months.

Q: Is mouth pain a sign of oral cancer?
A: Mouth pain can be a sign of oral cancer, however, it can also be a sign of many other oral health problems. To get a proper diagnosis, visit your dentist for a dental exam and let them know about your concerns.

Q: How long is a dental exam and cleaning?
A: Dental exams and cleanings are typically performed during one appointment that lasts for around an hour. 


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