Regular dental checkups offer an opportunity to get screened for oral cancer.
Your dentist may recommend an oral cancer screening if you're more vulnerable to the disease. Smoking, heavy alcohol intake, and excessive sun exposure can increase your risk.
You may also request an oral cancer exam as a precautionary measure.
Screening for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer screenings don't require special preparations. They're often included in routine dental checkups. Here's what you can expect.
Medical History Review. You and your dentist will discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing, your medical history, and your lifestyle habits.
Visual Exam. If you wear a dental appliance, you'll be asked to remove it. Your dentist examines the roof of your mouth, all sides of your tongue, back of your throat, the inside of your nose, lips, and neck among others. Your dentist is checking for bumps, discolouration, swelling, and other irregularities. They may also use special tools to see certain areas, which may not be fully visible to the naked eye.
Physical Exam. With gloved hands, your dentist will feel around your jaw, head, and cheeks for masses or unusual bumps. They ask you beforehand whether you're comfortable with physical contact. You may also be asked to swallow to examine your throat further.
Please note that an oral cancer screening isn't diagnostic, but it helps detect any irregularities in your mouth. Should your dentist spot any issue, they'll likely ask you to visit again for further testing.
Spots and swelling are often benign. But if they are cancerous, early detection by your healthcare providers means more treatment options will be available to you and your case is more likely curable.
The Importance of Early Oral Cancer Detection
Oral cancer is a worldwide issue. Prevention and screening are both crucial to reduce the need for aggressive treatments.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, combining early diagnosis with timely and appropriate treatment is the most effective way to control the disease.
Oral cancer screenings help identify the presence of the disease early to also allow patients to seek early treatments.
The majority of oral cancers are diagnosed from lesions on the mucosal surfaces or the moist, inner lining of the organs. This is because over 90% of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
This means that they begin in the squamous cells, the thin, flat cells found on the epidermis or outermost layer of the skin. And to identify cancerous from benign lesions and diagnose cancer, a biopsy of the tissue is necessary.
Using Diode Laser for Biopsy
A biopsy is done to confirm the presence of oral cancer. Your doctor removes tissue or cell samples and forwards them to an oral pathologist to be further studied under the microscope. Several types of biopsies may be used.
Here at de Man & Höediono Dentistry in the Kitchener area, we use a diode laser to biopsy instead of the traditional scalpel.
Lasers have long been used in the dental field for oral surgeries. Using a diode laser allows soft tissue procedures to be performed more efficiently. It reduces bleeding which, in turn, improves area visibility.
Biopsies can be done precisely with the help of a diode laser. Lasers leave minimal trauma on the site and eliminate the need for sutures. For smaller lesions, only topical anesthetic may be required.
According to a study, a diode laser surgery is quick and well accepted by patients.
Sufficient sample amount is drawn for analysis, postoperative issues are reduced, and scarring and discomfort are also minimal.
Researchers concluded that laser is a reasonable alternative to the scalpel and that it's quickly becoming the standard of care in today's dental practice.
Learn More About Oral Cancer Screening and Biopsy in the Kitchener Area
Oral cancer screenings are a preventive measure against the disease. And using diode lasers for biopsies increases patient comfort during and after the procedure.
For further information on oral cancer screenings and diode laser for biopsy, we invite you to book a consultation with our dentist.