Oral Cancer Screening: Schedule Your Dental Appointment 


It’s time to get checked! Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? So, it’s time to get proactive about your oral health, and come see us for your twice-a-year dental exam and oral cancer screening. With COVID shutting dental offices down for a few months, except for dental emergencies, some of us have missed one of our dental checkups.

What is Oral Cancer? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in any of the parts that make up the mouth (oral cavity). Mouth cancer can occur on the lips, gum, tongue, the inner lining of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, and floor of the mouth (under the tongue). Cancer that occurs on the inside of the mouth is sometimes called oral cancer or oral cavity cancer.”

This is more detrimental than you might think. Missing a visit to your dentist means that certain issues, such as gum disease, oral cancer and other oral issues to continue to worsen or not be diagnosed. With it being Oral Cancer Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to reschedule any missed dental exams and come see us so we can complete your oral cancer screening.

What Should I do if I Notice These Signs?

The best approach is to schedule an appointment to have your dentist take a closer look. Oral health professionals are often the first care providers to notice the early signs of oral cancer and other types of oral disease. If your dentist is concerned, he or she can refer you to a specialist for additional screening.

At the offices of Thomas L. Anderson and Associates, oral cancer screenings are performed at each cleaning appointment. We believe that the best way to ensure great oral and dental health is by taking a proactive stance. This includes:

  • Implementing and maintaining healthy habits
  • Scheduling regular dental checkups
  • Coming in for additional screening when any abnormality is detected

By being aware of issues such as oral cancer, patients can get the screening necessary to ensure that they remain healthy.

Are You at Risk?

Oral cancers are twice as common in males than females. Also, the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients are healthy, young, non-smoking people. Therefore, we can’t stress enough how important it is to get regular dental checkups, whether you think you may be at risk or not. When you see your dentist for your twice-a-year checkup, they do more than just clean your teeth, they also look for the warning signs that something else is wrong – such as oral cancer. There are also a few risks that you should know about:

  • Heavy drinking and/or smoking has been known to lead to oral cancer.
  • The HPV virus is also a leading risk for oral cancer.

Signs and Symptoms to Look For

Our body often shows us warning signs in the fight against oral cancer. Here’s what to look for:

  • Weight loss
  • Numbness, pain/tenderness around the mouth or neck
  • White, red, or speckled patches in the mouth
  • Any crusty, eroded areas in or around the mouth, or lumps
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness, changes in voice
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • Trouble speaking or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit when closing mouth
  • Bleeding in the mouth

Additional Oral Cancer Resources:

The oral health of our patients is important to us and we want to do everything possible to ensure you have a healthy smile. Even if you follow a diligent home care routine, scheduling a regular dental appointment at one of our three locations is still a must. While they may not seem like much, a routine checkup is essential for maintaining a healthy and functional smile. Otherwise, serious problems can arise and have a negative impact on the health and appearance of your smile. Let’s take a minute to dive in to what you should expect during your dental exam.

What should you expect from a routine dental appointment?

What Happens During Your Cleaning?

If you are due for routine x-rays, we will begin by taking updated films. During your cleaning, the dentist or one of our expert hygienists will use a scaler (a small metal instrument with a blade-like end) to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line. Or he or she may use an ultrasonic vibrating device to shake loose plaque and tartar and then rinse it away with a stream of water. An oral cancer screening will be completed. We will then polish your teeth with a lightly abrasive paste and finish up with a flossing. The now-smooth tooth surfaces make it more difficult for plaque to accumulate before the next cleaning.

What happens during an Oral Cancer Screening?

During an oral cancer screening exam, your dentist looks over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, your dentist also feels the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities. The dentist may also examine your throat and neck for lumps.

Your dentist will not be able to diagnose cancer during an examination. Oral cancer can be diagnosed only with a biopsy, when a sample of tissue in the area is removed and examined under a microscope. However, your dentist can identify suspicious-looking areas or growths that may need further evaluation.

The bad news: Oral cancer is common. The good news: If you have oral cancer and your dentist finds and treats it early, it usually is very curable. Oral cancer can usually be detected by a dentist or doctor in a routine mouth exam.

What Happens During Your Exam?

When you see us for your dental appointment, we will carefully examine your teeth, gums, jaw, and oral tissues. We will also refer to your most current x-rays to help to assess your oral health. The purpose of the exam is to accurately assess your current oral health and if possible, identify problems, such as oral cancer, while  in their earliest stages. When patients attend routine checkups as recommended by the Dr. Thomas L. Anderson or one of our gentle dentists, we tend to uncover problems before they can lead to complications that require more extensive treatment options.

How Often Should You Have One?

The American Dental Association recommends regular dental appointments every six months and we agree!

  • Children (once their first baby teeth erupt), teens, adults, and seniors all benefit from regular exams every few months.
  • Those with high risk factors of gum disease and other oral health issues may benefit from an exam every three to four months.

If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule one for yourself, then contact our team today!

Related Article: Your KC Dentist Celebrates Children’s Dental Health

Remember, if you are suffering from any pain, or notice a sore or legion that is not healing, please call to schedule an Emergency Dental Appointment, so we can help you get out of pain.

Do You Have Questions About Checkups?

We can provide a thorough exam to assess the health of your smile. At Thomas L. Anderson and Associates, we can help to ensure you maintain a lifetime of healthy smiles. We proudly offer our services to the Kansas City Metro and surrounding areas. Contact us today at one of our three convenient locations to schedule your dental appointment or to learn more about our other services.

Contact us today to schedule your dental appointment and meet with our skilled dentists at one of our three conveniently located dental office locations within the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit / Independence, the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City. The gentle dentists and expert team at Thomas L. Anderson and Associates look forward to working with you to treat your dental emergency, achieve proper oral health and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are happy to review your policy! Please give us a call today to schedule an appointmentand become part of our dental family.