During your dental checkup at Mega Dental, our dentist will perform a thorough examination to check for warning signs of oral cancer. They will also look for other abnormalities in your mouth that could indicate the need for treatment. Our dentist may use a mouth mirror to check the back of your oral cavity for signs of cancer. They may also use a tongue depressor or gauze to scrape your tongue and cheeks gently. This process helps remove plaque areas that could be hiding cancerous growths.
The screening also includes a visual inspection of your head and neck to check for lumps, swelling, and other unusual changes that could be a sign of oral cancer. This is because oral cancer can develop on the soft tissue in your oral cavity, extending into the neck.
When found early, oral cancer can be treated effectively with a surgical procedure called a partial glossectomy. During this procedure, our doctor will remove the cancerous growth from the soft palate and nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer is in the later stages, a full glossectomy may be performed to remove tissue from the roof of your mouth. Both of these procedures involve removing a portion of your hard or soft palate, but they will allow you to recover and return to your daily routine soon afterward.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer, refers to the development of malignant cells in any part of the oral cavity. This includes the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, and the area behind the wisdom teeth. Oral cancer can manifest as squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type, or other less common types, such as adenocarcinoma, verrucous carcinoma, or salivary gland tumors.
Oral cancer usually begins as a small, painless sore or ulcer that does not heal within a few weeks. When an oral exam reveals an abnormality in the oral tissue, our doctor will suggest a biopsy of the suspicious tissue. A biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small sample of the cells from the mouth to determine if they are cancerous.
The Advantages of Oral Cancer Screenings
- Early Detection
Oral cancer screenings aim to detect oral cancer at its earliest stages, even before symptoms are noticeable to the individual. Early detection is crucial because it allows for timely intervention and treatment, increasing the chances of successful outcomes and reducing the risk of complications.
- Enhanced Quality of Life
Detecting oral cancer at an early stage enables timely treatment, which can help preserve oral function, speech, and appearance. Early intervention may minimize the need for extensive surgeries or reconstructive procedures, contributing to a better quality of life during and after treatment.
Regular dental checkups, including oral cancer screenings, are recommended for individuals of all ages, especially those with known risk factors. Visit Mega Dental at 10510 FM 1464 Suite 100, Richmond, TX 77407, or call (832) 930-7723 for the best dental care. Our team is committed to providing the best possible care for our patients to enjoy healthy teeth and gums for life.