Oral Cancer Screenings at FDA

Did you know that regular dental care is a first line of defense for oral cancer? April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and is an opportunity to talk about the importance of early detection. It’s encouraging to note that when oral cancer is detected and treated early, there is a 80-90% survival rate. At Falmouth Dental Arts, we’ve long had a commitment to oral cancer screenings for our patients. Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos as well as our hygienists perform screenings during your regular check up appointments. To help raise awareness and answer questions, we wanted to provide some basic information about our screening procedures and common oral cancer warning signs.

Why Oral Cancer Awareness is Important

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 58,500 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in America, which translates to 132 people each day. While smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer, there are increasingly more and more young people developing oral cancer due to the HPV virus.

FDA’s Oral Cancer Screening

At FDA, Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, and our hygienists perform oral cancer screenings for our patients at every hygiene appointment. These screenings may include:

We start with a visual exam of the mouth, looking at the gum tissue, lips, checks, and tongue. Additionally we gently palpate or press on areas of the face and neck to check for any irregular lumps. If we have any concerns, we may offer to do a screening with VELscope. VELscope is a screening device that emits a blue light that quickly identifies abnormal cells before they are visible to the naked eye. It is a safe and non-invasive procedure and helpful for early detection of oral cancer.

FDA also performs CBCT 3D X-Rays which enables us to better visualize all of the structures within the head, neck, and mouth and assess our patients’ oral health. 3D imaging can be helpful in determining subsequent steps for the ideal treatment of an area of concern.

If we have any reason for concern after performing a screening, our next step would be to refer you to an oral surgeon for additional consultation and a possible biopsy. As your partner in oral health, we will remain involved every step of the way to provide support and follow-up care.

 Oral Cancer Warning Signs

You also have an opportunity to screen for oral cancer in your home care. For example, if you notice any changes to your mouth or experience any pain or tenderness, you should let us know. Also, you can be on the lookout for some of the common warning signs for oral cancer, including:

  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Sores that fail to heal
  • Abnormal lumps in the gums or neck
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

If you do discover an area of concern, please let us know so we can see you promptly for a thorough exam. As always, when you have any questions about your oral health or the oral cancer screening process, please don’t hesitate to call us! As your dentist, we are part of your healthcare team and happy to answer your questions!

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