You may understand the value of scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings, which will leave you with more attractive teeth and a healthier mouth. But did you realize that a routine visit with your Plano dentist can also save your life?

As part of a standard examination, your dentist is looking for signs of oral cancer, even in its earliest stages. The onset of oral cancer may involve a tiny red or white spot or bump that you may not even notice. A dentist is trained to identify such symptoms of concern.

Upon noticing a suspicious growth, the dentist will collect a sample of cells using a small brush and send them to a lab for microscopic examination. If signs of cancer or precancer are present, a full biopsy will be completed to confirm the diagnosis.

Patients should also self-monitor for signs of cancer and bring up those issues during the screening. The American Dental Association notes that other symptoms include oral sores that will not heal, lumps or thickenings of the soft tissues of the mouth, difficulty swallowing or pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth.

If you notice any of these signs, don’t panic. They often turn out to be benign. Nonetheless, you should still bring them to your dentist’s attention to rule out oral cancer.

Your dentist may also ask questions about lifestyle choices that increase your risk for cancer, such as smoking or chewing tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, and offer counseling about changing those behaviors.

Oral cancer detection is another compelling reason to visit the dentist at least every six months. Allowing larger gaps between dental appointments may give the cancer an opportunity to progress, in which case it may require more invasive treatment.

Oral cancer can have devastating consequences, from causing facial deformities to death. Early detection is a patient’s best bet for positive outcomes. Contact Plano Smile Studio at 972-398-2550 to schedule your next exam and screening.