Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Oral Cancer Screening

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We believe in informing and educating our patients and encouraging you to take charge of your own healthcare. We welcome your questions and are happy to answer any concerns you may have about your dental health, your treatment, and our practice.

Please take a look through this selection of questions we often receive. If your question is not answered here or if you have additional questions, feel free to call us or contact us online using our convenient form.

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is a particularly nasty form of cancer. Treatment often includes drastic surgeries in addition to chemotherapy or radiation. Oral cancer has a high recurrence rate and is often diagnosed after it has already progressed. When you consider that almost 50% of the population avoids regular twice-yearly dental visits, it is no surprise. Your dentist is your best bet in the early diagnosis and successful treatment of oral cancer.

Oral cancer has certain risk factors you can control. The main two risk factors involve tobacco and alcohol use. If you smoke, you can reduce your risk by quitting. Avoiding alcohol, particularly hard alcohol and beer, can also reduce your risk. The instance of oral cancer is much higher in people who use tobacco and alcohol together.

Exposure to sunlight may also increase the risk of oral cancer on your lips. Wearing a lip balm with SPF protection and limiting sun exposure can reduce your risk. Some studies also suggest a connection between HPV (human papillomavirus) and a higher instance of oral cancer.

In our Sugar Land, TX dental office, Dr. Reagan Grizzle uses Vizilite in the detection of oral cancer. Vizilite detects abnormal cells by making them more visible. An oral rinse in used in conjunction with a low-intensity light to make any lesions stand out.

If Dr. Grizzle ever sees anything he feels you should be concerned about, he will discuss it with you so that you know all of your options and have the best chance of successful treatment.

Anytime you have a spot, discoloration, or a lesion in your mouth that lasts more than two weeks, you should have it checked. Pain is not necessarily an indicator of cancer, so Dr. Grizzle should look at it whether it hurts or not.

Oral cancer is a particularly deadly form of cancer. Eight thousand Americans will die of oral cancer this year out of the 43,000 diagnosed each year. It is particularly deadly not because it is difficult to treat, but because we so commonly discover it later when it is more difficult to treat.

More than 50% of Americans do not receive regular dental care either because they think they can’t afford it, because of a fear of the dentist, or because they simply do not see the value of professional dental care.

Lack of dental care can cause numerous systemic illnesses including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and can leave serious diseases like oral cancer undetected. Often your dentist is the only person looking inside your mouth who knows how to recognize the early signs of oral cancer.

Dr. Grizzle performs oral cancer screenings at each dental exam. You never know, your dentist may save your life.



Oral cancer is cancer on your lips, gums, soft tissue, insides of your cheeks, tongue, and the top of your mouth. Your dentist is often the one to diagnose oral cancer, because your dentist is the one looking at the inside of your mouth on a regular basis. Oral cancer makes its first appearance as a lesion inside your mouth. If Dr. Reagan Grizzle suspects oral cancer, he will refer you to a trusted oral surgeon for a biopsy and treatment.

While we do not completely understand every cause of oral cancer, several risk factors increase your chances of having oral cancer. Alcohol use and tobacco use are the two biggest risk factors. When you use both alcohol and tobacco, your chances of getting oral cancer increase dramatically. Men get oral cancer more than women and recently, scientists linked the HPV (human papillomavirus) to increased risks of oral cancer.

Constant irritation from ill-fitting dentures increases your chances of getting oral cancer. If you or a loved one has ill-fitting dentures, call our office and we can help.

Dr. Reagan Grizzle performs an oral cancer screening at each exam because early treatment and diagnosis helps to avoid the most disfiguring treatments and increases your chances of survival.

When it comes to oral cancer, early detection is essential to avoid disfiguring surgeries and even death. Oral cancer is an extremely treatable cancer when found early. That is why Dr. Reagan Grizzle has invested in the latest in oral cancer detection. He wants his patients to have the best chance to beating this dangerous form of cancer.

In addition to the traditional oral cancer screening, which involves a visual assessment and physical assessment of the inside of your mouth, neck, lips, and tongue, Dr. Grizzle will use ViziLite to help detect any small or difficult to identify lesions. If any lesions are found, they will be marked for further investigation.

If Dr. Grizzle sees anything that he thinks needs to be addressed, he may recommend a biopsy to rule out cancer. Most of our patients get a clean bill of health for their oral cancer screenings, Vizilite is an extra precaution for that small percentage of people who may have oral cancer. Your health is the most important factor in our decision to offer ViziLite screenings.

When you schedule your regular exam and dental cleanings, we will automatically perform an oral cancer screening to keep you healthy and worry-free. Call our Sugar Land office to schedule your appointment today.

Oral cancer is a particularly deadly form of cancer with only a 50% survival rate over five years. It is not that oral cancer is particularly difficult to treat; it is mostly because we catch it in the later stages, making treatment more radical and lowering your life expectancy.

Several factors contribute to an increased likelihood of oral cancer. First, the use of tobacco or alcohol dramatically increases the chances you will develop oral cancer. Additionally, the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases the risk of developing oral cancer. HPV is a virus contracted through sexual contact, causes cancer in the back of the throat, and may not show the typical discoloration that accompanies oral cancer.

Treatment for oral cancer can be particularly brutal and require reconstructive surgeries. In some cases, patient may lose part of their tongues, jaws, or face in order to try to eradicate the cancer. Patients may lose the ability to speak, smile, and eat properly.

Your dentist the person most likely to recognize the early signs of oral cancer and require a biopsy to rule it out. Dr. Grizzle knows what the pre-cancerous cells look like and performs an oral cancer screening on each of our patients at their exam.


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