xray of teeth for dental health

Can Dental X-rays Help Prevent Mouth Cancer?

Avoiding tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, and sun overexposure are some of the most prominent ways to avoid mouth cancer. However, routine dental exams and yearly dental x-rays may also help prevent mouth cancer.

Dental oral cancer screenings that include x-rays can help detect possible signs of cancer or reveal pre-cancerous changes in your mouth that might otherwise go unseen and untreated.

Aren’t X-rays Harmful to Your Health?

Susquehanna Dental Arts uses digital x-rays, which emit 80% less radiation than traditional x-rays imaging. Digital x-rays are also more efficient and can produce image results more quickly. We believe oral cancer cases increase with a lack of dental x-ray examinations. Periodic x-rays can reveal what is happening underneath the gum line and could detect serious issues before they escalate.

Your dentist can look for signs of mouth cancers by closely examining gums, teeth, and feeling the throat and neck area. While a dentist cannot diagnose cancer, he or she may detect the early signs of cancer and refer you to a physician for further testing.

Learn more about Susquehanna Dental Arts preventive dentistry services.

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Some warning signs of oral cancer include:

  • red or white patches along the gum line or lining of the mouth,
  • tongue numbness
  • unexplained loose teeth
  • swollen jawline
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • difficulty swallowing or chewing

This is not a comprehensive list of signs and symptoms. If you suspect you have oral cancer, please schedule a visit with your physician or with our dental office to further discuss your oral health concerns.

What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

Red sores that do not heal, on the mouth lining or along the gum line, can be signs of oral cancer. Also, white patches that remain after brushing and rinsing can be signs of oral cancer.

What is an Oral Cancer Screening?

We offer basic oral cancer screening exams that include an examination of your lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, and other parts of your mouth and throat. We’ll look for changes in your mouth from previous exams.

If we notice anything unusual, we may need to schedule a digital dental x-ray to analyze the gumline for abnormalities. We will refer you to a physician if a diagnosis or further examination is needed.

Early detection means more treatment options if those abnormalities turn out to be cancer. We recommend that our patients over age 40 get annual oral cancer screening; patients age 20-39 should be screened every 3 years.