Oral Cancer Screenings in Murfreesboro, TN

Neglecting regular dental exams can lead to more than cavities and gum disease. Unaddressed oral health issues can escalate, posing serious risks like oral cancer. Screening for oral cancer is an essential part of our commitment to your health. At Magnolia Dental Group, we believe that taking a proactive approach can make a significant difference.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a serious medical condition that involves the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Mouth cancer typically begins as a small, painless sore or lump. Over time, if left undiagnosed and untreated, these abnormal cells can multiply and spread, forming a tumor. As the tumor grows, it may invade nearby tissues, including bones and nerves. The consequences can be severe, affecting speech, chewing, and breathing.

Common Types of Oral Cancers 

There are various types of oral cancers, with squamous cell carcinoma being the most prevalent. This type of cancer originates in the squamous cells, which line the oral cavity. Other types include salivary gland cancers, which develop in the salivary glands, and oral malignant melanomas, which start in the cells that produce pigment.

Factors Increasing the Risk of Oral Cancer

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco exposes the oral tissues to harmful chemicals, significantly increasing the risk of oral cancer.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption can weaken the oral tissues’ ability to resist the effects of carcinogens.
  • Sun Exposure: Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can increase the risk of lip cancer.

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Importance of Early Detection

The timely identification of oral cancer symptoms during routine dental exams can have a profound impact on treatment outcomes. When oral cancer is caught in its early stages, treatment options are often more effective and less aggressive. Surgical procedures, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can be more targeted and successful when the cancer is confined to a localized area. Catching early signs of oral cancer before it spreads to distant parts of the body significantly increases the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival.

Signs of Oral Cancer

  • Persistent Mouth Sores: Sores that do not heal within a few weeks can indicate an underlying issue.
  • Red or White Patches: Unexplained red or white patches on the tongue, gums, or mouth lining could cause concern.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Persistent pain or discomfort in the mouth, throat, or ears without an obvious cause should be evaluated.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, can be a symptom of oral cancer.
  • Changes in Speech: Changes in speech, including hoarseness or slurred speech, might indicate an underlying problem.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Numbness, pain, or a tingling sensation in the mouth, lips, or face can signal an issue.
  • Loose Teeth: Oral cancer might cause teeth to become loose without any apparent dental reason.
  • Unexplained Bleeding: Unexplained bleeding from the mouth, throat, or gums requires attention.

How Often Should You Get Scanned For Oral Cancer

The frequency of oral cancer screenings depends on various factors; dental professionals often perform regular oral cancer screenings during routine dental visits. For individuals with no known risk factors, an annual screening may be sufficient. However, if you have risk factors such as tobacco or alcohol use, your dentist might recommend more frequent screenings, possibly every six months.

Oral Cancer Exam in Murfreesboro, TN

Delaying an oral cancer screening could mean missing a chance to catch potential issues early. Dr. Scruggs and our dedicated team are here to provide you with expert care and guidance. Schedule your next dental appointment at Magnolia Dental Group in Murfreesboro, TN, for a comprehensive dental exam, including an oral cancer screening.