Your regular checkups with Dr. Forgosh at our local Allentown, PA, dental office are more than just about cleaning teeth and preserving a healthy smile. These appointments are an important opportunity for him to check for any signs of oral cancer.
There are approximately 35,000 new oral cancers diagnosed each year. Most of these diagnoses are related to smoking and alcohol abuse, but even people who have no risk factors can develop an oral cancer. These cancers are particularly insidious because they are difficult to find. Often the are not discovered until they become symptomatic and are more advanced.
An oral cancer screening involves a visual and physical exam of your mouth, jaw, the oral cavity and all the connected tissues. Be sure to visit Green Hills Dentistry at least once a year to keep your mouth healthy and ensure there are no serious oral conditions.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screenings are an essential aspect of overall dental health. They reassure patients that there are no obvious problems. Screenings also trigger early treatment if any issue becomes apparent. In fact, an oral cancer screening should take place before symptoms even begin to show.
Depending on your lifestyle choices, Dr. Forgosh may recommend getting screenings on a more regular basis. The following factors can increase your risk of getting oral cancer:
- Tobacco use
- Regular alcohol consumption
- Past presence of oral cancer
- Too much time in the sun
- Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Betel quid chewing
How the Screening Test Works
The basic oral cancer screening consists of a visual exam and a physical exam, usually taking less than five minutes to complete.
During the visual portion, Dr. Forgosh looks at all the parts of your mouth, such as your lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, the roof of your mouth and even the back of your throat. Those with dental appliances will have to remove them so that he has a clear view of every area.
Dr. Forgosh will use a light and mirror to see the inside of your nose and mouth. A tongue depressor may also be needed to hold down your tongue so that he can look at the back of your mouth, much like an ordinary physical. He is looking for any:
- Patches of color
- Irregularities with the spit that covers the pink areas inside your mouth
- And other abnormalities
At the same time you receive your visual assessment, Dr. Forgosh will conduct a physical exam. By touching your head, cheeks, jaw, under your chin, under your tongue and in the oral cavity, he will feel for unusual masses or nodules. The dentist may also ask you to swallow as your throat is examined. Signs that there may be a problem include:
- Immobility in tissues that are usually mobile
- Discomfort due to physical contact
- Painless swelling
If Dr. Forgosh notices anything unusual, he might recommend another appointment a few weeks later to check if anything has changed.
If things have not resolved on their own, Dr. Forgosh may refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy where a small piece of tissue from the problematic area will be extracted and sent to a lab to test for cancer cells.
It’s important to keep in mind that lumps, spots and other irregularities that Dr. Forgosh may find don’t necessarily mean you have oral cancer. Further testing is needed for such a diagnosis.
Contact Us Today
Oral cancer screenings are just one of the services provided during your regular dental appointment with Dr. Forgosh. Catching this condition early on provides patients with more treatment options. Contact us today to set up your regular dental appointment. If you ever notice any of the irregularities we mentioned above, give us a call as soon as possible at 610.395.0980.