Coral Gables Location
30 Years of Experience
Oral Cancer Screening in Miami, Fl
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Oral Cancer Screening Benefits
Oral cancer screening is especially important for people who smoke tobacco products, drink alcohol, chew betel nuts, and/or use drugs such as marijuana or cocaine, as these habits increase the risk of developing oral cancer. If you live in Miami, Florida, then you should schedule an appointment with us at Gallardo Periodontics & Implant Dentistry to get screened for oral cancer. It only takes a few minutes and can save your life.
Nearly 55,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, a largely preventable type of cancer that can be detected through a professional oral examination. At our Miami dental office, Dr. Gallardo and his team use advanced oral cancer screening methods during every routine visit to ensure that any abnormalities are caught early, when conditions are most treatable.
Types Of Oral Cancer
- Verrucous carcinoma
- Oral melanoma
- Lip cancer
- Gum and jaw cancer
- Tongue carcinoma
- Palate, cheek, and mouth cancer
- Salivary gland carcinoma
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What Kind Of Symptoms Does Oral Cancer Cause?
Symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person, but since early detection is essential for successful treatment and recovery, it’s important to know the potential signs and report them to Dr. Gallardo as soon as possible. Call our Miami dental office or click here to schedule an appointment if you notice:
- Swelling, lumps, or rough patches on any area inside your mouth
- Velvety or speckled patches in your mouth
- Loss of feeling in your mouth, face, or neck area
- Unexplained bleeding inside your mouth
- Sores on the mouth, face, or neck that bleed easily and don’t heal within 2 weeks
- Chronic sore throat and hoarseness
- A feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, moving your jaw, or moving your tongue
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
- A change in the fit of your dentures
What Happens During An Oral Cancer Screening?
ORAL CANCER CAN BE DETECTED BY A DOCTOR OR DENTIST
Oral cancer can be detected by a doctor or dentist, like Dr. Gallardo, performing screening and exams. When screening for oral cancer, a dentist will inspect your mouth, looking for lumps or lesions, as well as areas of discoloration, such as white, gray, or red spots. Your dentist will also feel around the throat to check for any lumps or abnormalities.
Along with visually and manually inspecting your oral cavity, cheeks, tongue, and gums, dentists can use technology and tools when screening for oral cancer. For example, one system uses fluorescent lights to help detect early lesions, because cancerous lesions appear benign or normal to the human eye in the earliest stages. The use of technology means that dentists can sometimes make a cancer diagnosis earlier, giving the patient more time for treatment and a better chance of survival.
If your dentist does spot something that might be cancerous, they will usually perform a biopsy and send the cells to a lab for testing. Then, depending on the size and type of lesion, they might recommend a follow-up appointment to monitor and reassess the situation.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Changes or mutations in a cell’s DNA can cause oral cancer. This happens when mutated cells continue to divide uncontrollably, eventually leading to a tumor. Although the specific cause of the mutations that lead to oral cancer isn’t fully understood, there are a number of risk factors that are thought to increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
Understanding what factors increase your risk of developing cancer in the mouth or throat can also help you take steps to reduce your risk and protect your health. Here’s what you need to know about the most common risk factors for oral cancer.
Smoking And Tobacco Use
It might not be much of a surprise to learn that smoking and using tobacco products such as chewing tobacco are leading risk factors for oral cancer. Smoking a pipe is linked to an exceptionally high risk of developing cancer on the lips, in the area where the stem of the pipe comes into contact with the mouth. Additionally, the smoke inhaled from any tobacco device can contribute to cancer in the throat, such as larynx cancer and esophageal cancer.
Using smokeless tobacco can also increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Smokeless tobacco is often connected to the development of cancer on the soft tissue inside the mouth, such as the gums and inside of the cheeks.
Age And Gender
Your age and gender can also influence your risk of developing cancer. For example, men are more than twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with oral cancer. One reason for the elevated rates of oral cancer in men might be that more men smoke and drink heavily than women.
Older people also have a higher chance of developing oral cancer compared to younger people. In fact, most patients with oral cancer are over the age of 55. One reason for that might be that oral cancers often take years to develop.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a fairly common virus. There are hundreds of strains of HPV, some of which are relatively harmless and merely lead to the development of benign warts (aka papillomas). However, other forms of HPV can contribute to cancer, and various types of HPV can cause cancer of the mouth or throat.
Since there are so many types of HPV, it’s possible to have some form of the virus and never develop cancer or even any symptoms (such as warts). But in recent years, the number of oral cancers linked to HPV has been on the rise.
Drinking alcohol, particularly drinking heavily, can elevate your risk of developing oral cancer. Nearly 70% of people with oral cancer also happen to be heavy drinkers. Smoking and drinking alcohol combined seem to raise the risk of developing oral cancer dramatically.
Eating a nutritious diet can help to reduce your risk of developing cancer. People who eat a diet low in vegetables and fruits tend to have a higher risk of cancer than people who do eat a lot of these nutrition-packed foods.
Visual Examination for Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is an important part of regular dental care, and it should be done regularly to ensure optimal oral health. Visual examination is the most common method of screening for oral cancer. During a visual exam, a dentist will look for signs of abnormal tissue in the mouth, such as red or white patches that could indicate early stages of oropharyngeal cancer. A dentist may also feel lymph nodes in the neck to check for any signs of cancer. If any suspicious areas are found during the exam, more testing will be recommended to determine if further treatment is necessary.
In Miami, Florida, Coral Gables Dental Care provides comprehensive oral cancer screenings as part of our preventative dental care services. Our highly trained and experienced dentists have extensive knowledge of how to identify potential signs of oral cancer and how to properly diagnose and treat patients if necessary. We use the latest technology and advanced techniques to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care. Our commitment to patient safety means that we take all precautions necessary to keep our patients safe and comfortable throughout their visit with us.
At Coral Gables Dental Care, we understand that your health is important, which is why we are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive oral health care services, such as oral cancer screenings and treatments when needed. With our help, you can rest assured that your mouth will stay healthy and free from disease or other complications. To schedule an appointment for an oral cancer screening or for any dental service in Miami, Florida, please contact us today!
Who Should Be Tested For Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer examination is an important part of regular dental care and should be done regularly to maintain optimal oral health. Regular screenings are recommended for everyone; however, certain high-risk individuals should be extra vigilant when it comes to their oral health and make sure to get screened more frequently than others. These high-risk individuals include tobacco users, alcohol drinkers, those exposed to excessive sunlight or UV radiation, people with a family history of oral cancer or HPV infections, and those who have had a previous diagnosis of cancer in the head or neck area.
It is recommended that all individuals get an annual comprehensive oral cancer screening from a dental professional such as a periodontist. During the screening, your dentist will look for any visible signs of abnormal tissue in the mouth, which can indicate early stages of oropharyngeal cancer. They may also feel lymph nodes in the neck for any irregularities. If anything suspicious is found during the exam, further testing may be necessary to determine if treatment is necessary.
At Coral Gables Dental Care, we recommend that all patients receive regular oral cancer examinations as part of their preventative dental care routine. Our dentists are highly trained and experienced in identifying potential signs of oral cancer and providing treatment when necessary. We use only the latest technology and advanced techniques so that our patients receive the best possible care from our team here at Coral Gables Dental Care.
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Why Choose Dr. Gallardo
- Dr. Gallardo has 30 years of experience offering dental implants and specialized periodontics to patients throughout South Florida.
- Dr. Gallardo is a graduate from the University of Miami and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from New York University College of Dentistry.
- Accepted into the V.A. Medical Center General Practice Residency Program of the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs where he was honored with the “Outstanding Resident of the Year” Award.
- He has lectured nationally and internationally to dentists and hygienists and has been sponsored by companies such as Procter and Gamble to speak on clinical topics related to gum disease and implant dentistry.
- Dr. Gallardo remains a leader in periodontics and implant dentistry through his active and past involvement with University of Florida, Florida Association of Periodontists and North American Society of Periodontists.
FAQs about Oral Cancer Screening
Yes, cancer screenings are very necessary! Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the US, and, sadly, only about 50 to 60% of people who get it survive for 5 years or more. This is because most oral cancers are found at later stages when the disease is harder to treat. Early detection can lead to prompt treatment that could save your life.
Oral cancer is diagnosed through a physical examination to look for abnormalities in the mouth, lips, and gums, such as lumps, ulcers, and sores. If your dentist finds a concerning sign, they will perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Yes, when treated early, oral cancer can be cured. You can also reduce your risk of getting it by avoiding tobacco of any form, using lip balm with SPF 30 or higher, limiting alcohol, and seeing your dentist regularly for an oral cancer screening.
Most adults should get a professional oral cancer screening at least once a year. However, people with increased risk factors, such as smokers, heavy drinkers, and those with a family history of oral cancer, may need to get screened more frequently.
While only a biopsy can confirm an oral cancer diagnosis, you can (and should) get into the habit of self-examining at home once a month in between dentist visits. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to check your mouth for oral cancer at home.