What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer, also called mouth cancer, is cancer the develops anywhere in or around your mouth. Over 50,000 Americans get an oral cancer diagnosis each year. You can get oral cancer on your:
- Inner cheeks
- Mouth roof
- Under-tongue area
You develop oral cancer when the cells in your mouth mutate, growing and dividing when they no longer should. This causes growths, most often squamous cell carcinomas.
Who is at risk of oral cancer?
Certain lifestyle choices heighten your risk for oral cancer, including:
- Smoking and using other tobacco products
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive lip sun exposure
Exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases your risk of oral cancer.
Fortunately, when oral cancer is caught early, it’s much easier to treat. That’s why regular oral cancer screenings at RenovaSmiles are so important, particularly if you have a heightened risk for this type of cancer.
How does oral cancer screening work?
The team at RenovaSmiles uses the VELscope® enhanced oral assessment system to screen you for oral cancer. They picked this technology because it’s both highly effective and highly convenient.
While other oral cancer screenings require dyes or take a long time, the VELscope screening is fast, noninvasive, and dye-free.
During this screening, your dentist looks through the VELscope to analyze the tissue in your mouth. The VELscope shines a blue-spectrum light on the soft tissue of your mouth, causing the healthy tissue to naturally fluoresce.
Any unhealthy tissue appears dark through the scope, helping your RenovaSmiles dentist identify problems they wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye.
If they do detect any potentially cancerous tissue, they may use a Biolase® laser to perform a biopsy so a sample from the tissue can be sent to the lab for further testing.
Will I need to make a separate appointment for oral cancer screening?
No. Oral cancer screening with VELscope takes just minutes, and you can have it during your routine teeth cleanings. If you’re interested in getting screened for oral cancer, don’t hesitate to talk to your RenovaSmiles provider about it.
They can screen you for oral cancer on the schedule that’s right for you. If you’re a smoker, for example, your dentist will likely recommend an oral cancer screening at each of your biannual exams and teeth cleaning appointments. This way, any abnormalities in your oral tissue are caught early.
To add an oral cancer screening to your upcoming RenovaSmiles appointment, or to schedule a visit specifically for a screening, call the office closest to you or make your appointment online today.