Does a Dental Cleaning Reduce My Risk for Oral Cancer?

Does a Dental Cleaning Reduce My Risk for Oral Cancer? from iSmile Dental - Dr. James Helmy in Boca Raton, FLDental cleaning takes up the second half of every routine dental checkup. The professional teeth cleaning exercise has numerous oral health benefits. Is reducing the risk of oral cancer one of them?

What to expect from professional dental cleaning

A dentist has the training and keen eye to spot areas of neglect in the far reaches of the mouth. These qualities allow them to perform deep cleaning that involves:

  • A visual and tactile exam to check for oral health issues
  • Where necessary the dentist may request x-rays to check for problems that are hard to spot with the naked eye
  • The dentist will correct minor and moderate dental problems with restorative dentistry
  • Patients with few or no dental problems will undergo scaling to remove plaque and tartar
  • The dentist will then polish the teeth with gritty toothpaste and a mechanized toothbrush
  • Lastly, the dentist will floss the teeth and watch for gums that bleed easily

This process takes around an hour, give or take. The exact duration the patient spends in the dentist’s chair depends on the health of their mouth. The sections that follow explore the role of a dental cleaning in reducing the risk of oral cancer.

1. Teeth cleaning provides an opportunity for oral cancer screening

Before a dentist cleans their patient’s teeth, they will perform a thorough oral exam. The dentist will use light to check for abnormalities in the soft tissues of the mouth. They may also apply dye to the patient’s mouth to enhance the appearance of any lesions or raised patches in the mouth.

The dentist will also use touch (palpation) to check for lumps and other abnormalities in the areas around the oral cavity. If the dentist finds a worrisome symptom, they will order further tests to check for the presence of cancerous cells.

2. Timely treatment of dental problems lowers the chances of oral cancer

Some strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause infections that can, in turn, cause cancer. When these HPV strains end up in the mouth, they can trigger oral cancer. Good oral habits can prevent this sequence of events from happening in the following ways:

  • Keeping the mouth clean prevents the accumulation of harmful microorganisms
  • Good oral habits like safe oral sex and routine dental checks go a long way to prevent oral cancer
  • Correction of oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay prevent infection that could cause complications like cancer

To expand on the last point, severe gum disease is an infection that can cause a malignant transformation of cells. Regular dental cleaning prevents the accumulation of plaque and tartar that leads to severe periodontal disease.

3. Regular dental visits are a way to enhance good oral habits

These periodic checks are a useful tool that helps patients ditch bad oral habits like smoking and poor dental hygiene. Dentists use their knowledge to help patients adopt healthy habits that touch on diet, nutrition, and protective measures like mouth guards.

A dentist who is good at their job will also help their patient to overcome a phobia of the dentist’s office. This effort allows the patient to normalize routine dental checkups, to the benefit of their oral health.

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Request an appointment or call iSmile Dental - Dr. James Helmy at 561-225-2054 for an appointment in our Boca Raton office.

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