Oral Cancer Screenings in Fairfax, VA
Of the many services that our dentists in Fairfax perform on a regular basis, there are few that are more important that oral cancer screenings. These consultations check for cancer in any of the parts that make up the mouth, including lips, roof and floor of the mouth, gums, tongue and the lining of the cheek. Oral, or mouth, cancer is one of several types of cancers that are grouped into a single category of head and neck cancers. For those who pursue regular screenings, this can dramatically increase the chances that the disease can be detected early and treated effectively, which in turn will dramatically increase a patient’s chance of recovery.
When patients visit the dentist’s office, an oral cancer screening is usually one of the many tasks performed during a routine cleaning, but there are more advanced tests for those who are subject to a variety of risk factors. Most dentists will examine the inside of the mouth to check for red or white patches, as well as sores and other abnormalities that could be the early symptoms of oral cancer. The screening itself is not the only way to determine whether or not an individual has a form of oral cancer, as the next step is to remove tissue or cells from the abnormal area and testing them for cancer with a biopsy.
In addition to a check with the naked eye, dentists have other special tests to examine a patient’s mouth for oral cancer. Some dentists may ask patients to rinse out their mouths with a blue dye before a consultation. Abnormal cells that may be present in the mouth couldattract the dye and could give a dentist a much better sense of an individual’s risk of developing cancer. Additionally, dentists can also make use of a special light that can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy tissues. After the patient rinses his or her mouth out with a special fluorescent stain, this light will be able to show the difference between normal, healthy tissue and material that could develop into cancer down the road.
Oral cancer screenings have become a fixture of regular dental consultations, and whether a patient chooses to have their mouth looked at by a professional or try out one of the many new techniques available, these screenings are a vital step in promoting long-term dental health and preventing major health problems.