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Can an X-Ray Detect Oral Cancer?
Posted on 3/27/2016 by Dr. Michael Allard
X-ray imaging is an extremely helpful diagnostic tool for a variety of oral health problems, including oral cancer. X-ray machines use electromagnetic radiation in order to produce images, and while these pictures were developed on film in the past, digital X-rays now make the process even easier.
After the photo is taken, the image appears almost instantaneously on your dentist's computer to be reviewed.
While this is how traditional dental X-rays are taken, did you know that chest X-rays could also be used in the diagnosis of oral cancer? It's true - these X-rays are important to determine if oral cancer has spread to other locations of the body, specifically to the lungs.
Typically, in advanced stages of oral cancer, presence is detected in the lungs. Unfortunately, your dentist likely won't be able to perform this test and will need to refer you to your local hospital to have this type of imaging completed.
If you do have to have an X-ray taken to diagnose your oral cancer or to help with any other dental concern, it is important to note that this technology is typically painless and can be finished very quickly.
Today, patients are exposed to minimal radiation during dental X-rays, and in most cases you'll be exposed to more radiation from daily environmental factors that you will in your dental office. That is good to know, especially because X-rays are extremely helpful in constructing structural images in the body to detect greater health concerns.
If you suspect that you might have oral cancer, it is important that you talk to your dentist or oral surgeon right away. Keep an eye on your mouth and changes that might be going on, including changes in pigmentation, sores, lumps, or other issues. If you notice any changes that are concerning, contact our office. An X-ray may be needed in order to diagnose the problem.