Oral Cancer Exam

Oral Cancer Exam

According to research conducted by the American Cancer society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient. The good news is that oral cancer can easily be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages. Oral cancer is a pathologic process which begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable. This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important. Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma. The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma. This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues. There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:
  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Salivary Glands
  • Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
  • Gums
  • Face

Reasons for oral cancer examinations

It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.
When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective. Any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as quickly as possible. During the oral cancer exam, the dentist and dental hygienist will be scrutinizing the maxillofacial and oral regions carefully for signs of pathologic changes.
The following signs will be investigated during a routine oral cancer exam:
  • Red patches and sores – Red patches on the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, white or pink patches which fail to heal and slow healing sores that bleed easily can be indicative of pathologic (cancerous) changes.
  • Leukoplakia – This is a hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesion that can appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia can be cancerous, or may become cancerous if treatment is not sought.
  • Lumps – Soreness, lumps or the general thickening of tissue anywhere in the throat or mouth can signal pathological problems.

Oral cancer exams, diagnosis and treatment

The oral cancer examination is a completely painless process. During the visual part of the examination, the dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands and neck for unusual bumps. Lasers which can highlight pathologic changes are also a wonderful tool for oral cancer checks. The laser can “look” below the surface for abnormal signs and lesions which would be invisible to the naked eye.
If abnormalities, lesions, leukoplakia or lumps are apparent, the dentist will implement a diagnostic impression and treatment plan. In the event that the initial treatment plan is ineffective, a biopsy of the area will be performed. The biopsy includes a clinical evaluation which will identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.
Oral cancer is deemed to be present when the basement membrane of the epithelium has been broken. Malignant types of cancer can readily spread to other places in the oral and maxillofacial regions, posing additional secondary threats. Treatment methods vary according to the precise diagnosis, but may include excision, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
During bi-annual check-ups, the dentist and hygienist will thoroughly look for changes and lesions in the mouth, but a dedicated comprehensive oral cancer screening should be performed at least once each year.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, please ask your dentist or dental hygienist.

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Great experience Dr. Saint Germain has great knowledge from implants,root canals, fillings to extractions. I would recommend him for all your dental work. Prices are comparable to other dentists.
—Moe O.
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I was traveling in the area from out of state and developed a toothache in route. A local colleague referred me to Dr St Germain for treatment. Dr St Germain determined I needed a root canal and although his appointment schedule was fully booked kindly moved other patients around to treat me. He and his staff were the most professional I have experienced anywhere including my dentist at home. I would highly recommend his office for their services and wish I live locally so I could use this practice regularly. Thanks again!!
—Michael S.
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These guys were great and prompt and very efficient, place was great. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, clean office and great service. Prices were comparable to other spots, so it wasn't too expensive. Awesome! I recommend this dentist office here in Nashua, NH.
—Mark G.
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I loved everything about my visit... and let's be honest, that's huge when talking about the dentist! The office was warm and inviting, the staff was super kind, even taking the time to introduce themselves and shake my hand. Such a change from my previous dentist. Highly recommend!
—Jeffa L.
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Dr. St. Germain is very nice and explains things to his patients so they understand what is going on. He connects with them on a personal level which eases the "fear/anxiety" that one can have going to the dentist. MaryEllen is also great to talk to; whether you are on the phone or in the office, she will do anything she can to help you! I would defintiley reccomend Dr. St. Germain as your next dentist!!!
—Niki P.
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Dr. St. Germain & his staff are totally wonderful. Up on the latest technology but easy going & very accommodating. They know what they're doing & do it well.
—Michele M.
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I have known Dr. St. Germain since 2007. I would recommend Dr. St. Germain and his practice to everyone I know. He is a caring, competent, professional. He offers a wide range of dental services all in one place which my family and I really love. He is tops with my kids too! Your children don't need to be afraid of the dentist! I can attest to this! My sons' love the rides he gave them in his dental chair when they were younger and he always explains everything to them. They always leave his office with a smile, holding their new toothbrush or toy like a badge of honor. : ) Dr St. Germain always keeps up to date on all the latest dental techniques and studies which I love. He treats dental health with a "whole body" approach . He listens and really cares If you have dental anxiety now you won't after visiting Dr. St. Germain! His service and staff are top notch, and friendly too. Dr. St. Germain has helped me immensely, I had a few old filling which always gave me trouble, Dr St. Germain fixed them for me and I have never felt pain in those teeth ever again! My family and I Thank You Dr. St.
—Melanie P.
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I greatly appreciate the care I receive from Dr. St. Germaine and his staff. I very much appreciate the attention staff pays to ensuring how much my insurance will cover, and work to make it work for me. I am a fairly new recipient of their care, but like how I am treated and care for.
—Nancy K.
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Both my mother and I have attended Merrimack Valley Dental for the past 8 years and always have a quick and pain free experience. All of the hygienists remember me and act like one big family, while Doctor St. Germain makes every cleaning and procedure feel like a simple procedure while telling a story to distract you. They make a dentists appointment something you don't dread ahead of time!
—Juliano S.
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I have enjoyed being a patient at Merrimack Valley Dental Care. The staff are consistently friendly and helpful. They truly care about my health and that of my family. My two young children are patients as well. They have their teeth cleaned and have even had teeth "pulled"/removed; all of which have been positive experiences for them and myself. Most recently, I took my children for their six month cleaning. I had messed up the times of their appointments. The staff at Merrimack Valley Dental Care accommodated us by staying later than they were scheduled to! I was extremely grateful for their flexibility.
—Amy Y.
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The staff here is amazing! My family has always been treated with respect, care and professionalism. I have always had positive experiences there despite the fearful nature of dentistry in general. Would recommend them and do recommend them whenever I get a chance
—Stephen O.
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I saw some negative reviews on this place and was shocked. I have been a customer who came from an AWFUL dentist that really really made it hard for me to go to the dentist. I needed a lot of work. We developed a plan and are executing! Fair prices, great people- I would and have recommended St. Germain and practice to friends and family. Went today for a cleaning and the experience hasn't changed from the first day I went.
—Jesse G.
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I'm deeply afraid by dentists! I recently had a tooth extracted by DDS Albert St. Germain. He actually took the time to bring me in a calm state of mind. His gentail Staff of dental hygienist and office administration - I found my new dentistry!
Thank You Dr. St. Germain!
—John D.
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I hadn't been to the dentist in many, many years, and I was very nervous about the kind of work I might need when I first came to Dr. St. Germain and his staff. Right away, they were comforting and courteous. I had a cleaning within two weeks of my first visit, and a cavity filling several weeks later. Both procedures were done with skill and patience. There were no insurance hassles at all; the cleaning was 100% covered and the cavity filling had a reasonable co-pay. I would absolutely recommend "Dr. Saint" and his staff to anyone. They're extremely friendly and professional. I'll never enjoy a visit to the dentist, but at least I know I'm getting the best experience possible when I go to Merrimack Valley Dental Care.
—Roger T.
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