Skip to main content

Should I Be Screened for Oral Cancer?

Your mouth may not come to mind when you think about cancer, but it should. Over 54,500 Americans get oral cancer every year and more than 11,500 die from it. 

Cancer can attack any tissue in your oral cavity or throat, including your tongue, tonsils, gums, mouth floor, lips, mouth roof, and salivary glands. 

Fortunately, our experts at St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants offer oral cancer screenings that can help detect the disease early and get you started on life-saving treatment. 

Caesar Sweidan, DDS, Laura Smith, DDS, and our professional dental team specialize in complex oral health issues. If you suspect oral cancer or have one or more risk factors, we invite you to schedule an appointment for a thorough screening. 

Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about oral cancer and screenings.

Facts about oral cancer 

As we mentioned, oral cancer can develop in any part of your oral cavity, including your lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat).

Oral cancer usually affects people aged 60 and older, but younger folks can get it too. Most oral cancers, known as squamous cell carcinomas, stem from the squamous cells lining your mouth, tongue, gums, and lips.

Not all mouth tumors are cancerous, but you should always have us check suspicious growths, bumps, or lesions. You can prevent many types of oral cancer by reducing the risk factors within your control and getting screened. 

Who should get screened for oral cancer?

While everyone should undergo periodic oral cancer screenings, some people are at higher risk and may require more frequent examinations. 

The three main risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and excessive sun exposure of the lips.


The longer you use tobacco in any form — cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or pipes — the higher your risk of developing oral cancer. 


Consuming more than 21 servings of alcohol weekly dramatically increases your risk for oral cancer. 

Sun exposure

About a third of all lip cancers stem from too much sun exposure. 

Other risk factors for oral cancer

Beyond the top three causes, several other factors can make you more susceptible to oral cancer, including:

Certain genetic disorders, such as fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenita, can increase your oral cancer risk, too. 

The oral cancer screening process

An oral cancer screening is a quick, painless procedure. We examine your mouth for sores or discolored areas. We may also feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or abnormalities and could use additional tests to identify areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.

If you notice any changes in your mouth, such as sores, red or white patches, pain, numbness, or a feeling of something caught in your throat, see us as soon as possible.

All about oral biopsies

We may recommend a biopsy if we find any suspicious areas during your screening. This simple procedure involves removing a sample of cells for laboratory testing to determine whether cancer cells are present. 

Treatment for oral cancer depends on its location, its stage, and your overall health. Options may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.

When caught early, oral cancer is more manageable and your chance for a successful treatment increases significantly. The good news is that regular oral cancer screenings at St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants can save your life.

To schedule an oral cancer screening, call us in Covington or Slidell, Louisiana, or request an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What's Your Chronic Bad Breath Trying to Tell You?

If people wince when you talk, stand at arm’s length, or worse, avoid you altogether, you may have chronic bad breath, which could be a sign of oral and overall health problems. Here’s what your breath is saying.

Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Dental implants can change your life, whether you’re missing a tooth or two or wearing dentures and wishing you weren’t. Here’s how to tell whether they’re right for you.