Whether you realize it or not, your orthodontist often provides an oral cancer screening during your visits. This quick and painless procedure involves only a few simple steps and often takes place while your orthodontist discusses your oral health and physical wellness with you. But by taking a few moments of your time, this caring professional can help save your life. Finding oral cancer early certainly improves your odds of preventing its spread and even clearing yourself of this scary disease.

Of course, oral cancer screening is not the only service you receive in your orthodontist’s office. Your orthodontist specializes in teeth straightening, such as through youth braces and adult braces Johns Creek, GA.

Why You Need Oral Cancer Screening

woman prepares for an oral cancer screening

Few people realize the threat of oral cancer. This disease, like other cancers, occurs from uncontrolled, abnormal cell division in your body. Oral cancer occurs inside your mouth and related tissues. These tissues potentially affected by the disease include your lips, salivary glands, tonsils, throat, esophagus, tongue, and other soft tissues.

People need to be screened for oral cancer regardless throughout their lives. Certain risk factors add to your chances of having the disease. These risk factors include alcohol use, tobacco use, drug use, HPV, and poor oral hygiene. The disease is most prevalent in people over the age of 45.

You should not wait until you find symptoms before receiving oral cancer exams. The National Cancer Institute stresses the importance of these routine checks as part of your dental and orthodontic treatment.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer screenings should take place before symptoms begin to show.

What Does Screening for Oral Cancer Include?

Screening for oral cancer involves only a few steps. These are the visual exam and the physical exam. But your orthodontist possibly uses some specialized tools in the process.

The visual screening for detecting signs of oral cancer includes an exam of your face, lips, neck, oral cavity, and nose interior. If you wear removable dental appliances, you take those out before your screening begins. An oral cancer screening is quick and painless.

Your orthodontist looks for signs of asymmetry, swelling, discoloration, changed color, ulcers, bumps, or other abnormal-looking changes. He uses a mirror and light to see inside of your mouth, along with a tongue depressor to hold your tongue down.

The physical screening involves simply touching your head and cheeks, along your jaw, beneath your chin and in your oral cavity to check for masses or bumps. In your typically mobile tissues, immobility can raise concern. Your orthodontist sometimes asks how certain areas feel and whether you feel any pain, although some problems involve no pain.

Special devices or tools sometimes used as part of this screening include a brush that removes some surface cells for testing. A VELscope uses a blue light to show suspicious tissues and an Orascoptic DK uses an acidic rinse for the same purpose. Sometimes your orthodontist uses specialized dyes, too.

Oral Cancer Checks Save Lives

Oral cancer screenings provide a chance for your orthodontist to find early signs of disease. Catching early signs often means preventing bigger problems, even saving lives.

Your orthodontist provides a range of other helpful services that improve your dental health, physical wellness and appearance. These include:

At Ricci Orthodontics in Johns Creek, GA, we do not only care about straightening your teeth. We also help you maintain overall good health, starting from your confident smile and healthy bite. Call Ricci Orthodontics today at 678.932.0308, or contact us online to schedule your visit and ask about oral cancer screenings.