Visit Your Dentist for an Oral Cancer Screening This Month

Oral cancer isn’t the most common cancer, nor is it the most talked-about. However, it is still worthy of attention because it is estimated that roughly 10,000 people in the U.S. will die from oral cancer in 2019. Over 50,000 people will be diagnosed with it. Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time for you to visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening. A quick and painless checkup could save your life!

Who Should Get Screened?

There are a number of risk factors that have a strong association with oral cancer:

  • Tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol consumption (especially when combined with tobacco use)
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Male gender
  • Older age
  • A poor diet
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)

Even if you don’t believe that you have anyof the above-listed risk factors, it’s still wise to get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. You might be at a higher risk than you think; many people do not realize they have HPV because it doesn’t always present obvious symptoms. Of course, even if you are free of HPV and do your best to live a healthy life, screening is still important. Sometimes, oral cancer pops up seemingly without rhyme or reason. Really, no one is exempt from the need to attend routine oral cancer screenings.

What Happens at a Screening?

An oral cancer screening is a quick and painless process. Many dentists even include it as part of a routine checkup. Your dentist or hygienist will perform a visual and tactile examination of your cheeks, tongue, throat, gums, and surrounding structures to search for any signs of the disease. Some of the things they’ll look for include:

  • Patches of discoloration
  • Lumps or swelling
  • Loose teeth

You should be sure to mention it to your dentist if you’re experiencing explained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, or pain in or around your mouth — all of these could indicate that you need to pursue further oral cancer testing. Your primary care physician or a cancer specialist can biopsy the suspicious tissue to determine the cause of the problem.

Early Detection: A Key to Survival

Oral cancer has an overall 5-year survival rate of over 80 percent. However, in most survivors, the disease gets caught while it is still in its early stages. Individuals who do not get screened and give the cancer an opportunity to spread have a much lower survival rate. In fact, in cases where the cancer reaches distant parts of the body, the survival rate is below 40 percent.

If it is has been more than a year since the last time you got checked for oral cancer, now is the perfect time to call your dentist to schedule a checkup. A simple screening could save your life!

About the Author

Dr. Benjamin Naylor is a general dentist and the owner of Mountain Stream Dental. He loves to help patients enjoy healthy, happy lives through gentle, skilled dental treatments. He always includes an oral cancer screening as part of a routine checkup. If you would like Dr. Naylor’s help to protect your smile and overall well-being, contact us today at 541-345-5363.


498 Harlow Rd #2, Springfield, OR 97477

Phone: (541) 345-5363

Office Hours

MON - THU 8:00 am - 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

FRI - SUN Closed

Get in Touch

Email: [email protected]

Call or Text Us: (541) 345-5363