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When Should I Get an Oral Cancer Screening?

closeup of an oral cancer screening

It’s estimated that 24 people die a day from oral cancer — that’s one person every hour. Our mission at Trillium Dental is to provide our patients with the tools they need to have healthier smiles, which is why we offer oral cancer screenings at our Portland, Oregon dental office.

Here’s when you should get an oral cancer screening.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Like other cancers, the cause of oral cancer depends on a variety of factors. The most common causes of oral cancer include excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, lack of oral hygiene, and genetic predisposition. Some studies have shown that sun exposure can also increase our chances of oral cancer.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening takes only a few minutes and usually occurs during your regular cleaning and examination appointment. During your screening, your dentist will examine your tongue, gums, cheeks, and jaws, looking out for any unusual growths or bumps that most of us would miss. They will then do a careful scan of your neck, lips, and face. Lastly, they will massage the sides of your neck to feel your lymph nodes.

Depending on what your dentist observes, they may order an x-ray or further testing.

When You Should Get an Oral Cancer Screening

Typically, you should get an oral cancer screening at least once every three years if you’re between the ages of 20-40 and every year if you’re 40 and older. If you smoke or drink alcohol frequently, you should have an oral cancer screening more often.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

There are ways to minimize your chances of developing oral cancer even if you’re genetically predisposed to it. The most important thing you can do is maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine and brush and floss twice a day every day. Next, you should avoid smoking or excessive alcohol consumption if possible. Lastly, you should eat a balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber to keep your teeth and gums strong.

Twice yearly dental examinations are another very important way to keep track of your oral health. Because your dentist can keep a consistent record of any abnormalities, they can detect any signs of oral cancer early on.

Preventative Dental Care in Portland, Oregon

If you are due for a preventative examination, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Trillium Dental! Apart from preventative services, we also offer cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dental services to cover all of your needs — and all at affordable prices. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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