How Often Should I Get Checked for Oral Cancer?

Marietta oral cancer screenings.
Image Credit – Antonio Guillem/

Oral cancer screenings with a Marietta dentist are essential to proactive health management. While often undervalued, these screenings make the difference in early detection and successful cancer treatment. Many people are unaware that an oral cancer screening is actually part of a dental cleaning appointment. So if you’ve never had a screening (or it’s been awhile), here’s how often you should get checked.

How Often Should I Have an Oral Cancer Screening With My Dentist?

An oral cancer screening is a quick test your dentist performs to identify signs of cancer in the mouth. For most adults, annual oral cancer screenings are recommended as part of a regular checkup and dental cleaning.

Patients over 40 years old with high risk factors could benefit from more frequent tests – your dentist will offer personalized advice. Dental cleanings themselves are recommended every six months, making a screening a convenient addition to your regular office visit.

An oral cancer screening is used to identify any concerning signs at the earliest opportunity possible, allowing for quicker access to treatment. To supplement regular dental visits, we have also compiled our best tips for protecting your family from oral cancer.

What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening is non-invasive, usually taking five minutes or less. In 2022, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reported 54,000 new cases of oral cancer in the U.S., illustrating the importance of this straightforward health check.

During the test, your dentist will examine your mouth and gums for signs of abnormal tissue, such as red or white patches. The dentist also feels for lumps in the face, mouth or throat. When a possible sign of cancer is noted, cell samples will usually be sent for lab tests and you may be referred to a specialist.

When Should I Request an Oral Cancer Screening

If you notice any worrying signs you don’t need to wait until your next dental exam – contact your dentist to schedule an appointment. Some indicators to look for include the following.

  • Persistent sores that bleed or don’t show signs of healing after two weeks.
  • White or red patches in the mouth.
  • Lumps or rough patches in the mouth, throat or on the lips.
  • Ongoing pain or tenderness in the mouth.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.

If you notice these issues or haven’t visited your dentist for awhile, make an appointment with your hygienist for dental cleanings and oral exams and get a comprehensive oral cancer screening. This easy process is the quickest and most convenient way to achieve peace of mind.

Professional Oral Cancer Screenings in Marietta

Shining Smiles Family Dentistry is a trusted provider of oral cancer screenings and dental cleanings. For oral examinations with a caring, skilled dental hygienist, visit our Marietta practice. Call (770) 420-8550 or request a dental appointment today.

Meet Dr. Shaila Mohip-Chahwala

We cater to Marietta residents looking for a family dentist to improve their oral health and help them look and feel great.

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