woman happy that her dentist offers oral cancer screenings

Am I at risk?

Different risk factors make one person more likely to get oral cancer than another, but even if you aren’t on the ‘risk list,’ you should still get checked twice a year. 25% of oral cancers occur in people who don’t fall into any risk category.

Tobacco Use: Most cases of oral cancer are from tobacco use. All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and pipe smoking, place you at a greater risk for oral cancer.

Alcohol Abuse: Drinking alcohol increases your risk of oral cancer. The more you drink, the higher the risk.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV): This type of STI is linked more and more often to oral cancer and other kinds of cancer.

Gender: More men have oral cancer. This may be due to men being more likely to use tobacco and alcohol.

Excess Weight: Being overweight increases your risk for oral cancer.

Age: Oral cancer takes many years to develop, so it’s more common in those over 55. However, oral cancer from HPV is more common in younger people.

UV Light: While this one might seem an oddball on the list, excess sunlight can cause lip cancer.

Poor Nutrition: Diets low in fruits and vegetables put you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.

Genetic syndromes: Those who have Fanconi anemia or Dyskeratosis congenita are at a higher risk of oral cancer.

Oral Health: Poor oral hygiene can increase your risk of oral cancer through gum disease. So can the presence of cancer-causing bacteria that isn’t washed by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist.

Irritation from Dentures: If you are a denture wearer and use tobacco or alcohol, poor-fitting dentures increase the chances of cancer-causing bacteria getting stuck in your mouth.

Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer has telltale signs that your Columbus dentist can recognize even before you start to notice symptoms.

  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal.
  • A color change of the oral tissues.
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small, eroded area.
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.

closeup of oral cancer in a mouth

Our Columbus Oral Cancer Screening Process

Our cleanings include an oral exam where we screen your mouth for the above symptoms. If we find anything out of the ordinary, we’ll perform one of two tests.

  1. Brush Biopsy: We’ll perform this pain-less test in areas that aren’t overly suspicious but could use another look. With this test, we can detect dangerous cells in the early stages of cancer.
  2. Traditional Biopsy: We’ll perform a traditional biopsy with local anesthesia and a scalpel if we see an area of concern. We’ll send the cells to be examined and let you know what we find.

Schedule Your Twice Yearly Cleaning and Oral Exam

Your cleaning is more important than you might have realized. If it’s been a while, or you don’t have your next cleaning and oral exam scheduled, call us at (614) 848-5001 or make an appointment online. Your Columbus, OH, dentist is here to help keep you healthy and feeling well.