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Oral Cancer Screening

Catching mouth cancer early allows you to get treatment as soon as possible to give you the best possible health.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?

Your dentist visually examines the inside of your mouth, tongue, and throat for abnormalities. They feel in your cheeks and tongue for lumps.

What to Expect

  • 1-2 minutes

What Can Oral Cancer Screening Do for Me?

Your dentist can see things you cannot always see in your mouth for yourself. And your dentist understands the signs and symptoms of various mouth cancers, as well as other head and neck cancers, and knows what to look for.

Having routine cancer screenings gives you peace of mind. Mouth cancers have been on the rise in recent years. Catching squamous cell cancer or other types of cancer in the beginning stages gives you a better chance of finding effective treatments and better outcomes.

Types of oral cancer the dentist can screen for include:

  • Mouth floor cancer
  • Gum cancer
  • Hard palate cancer
  • Inner cheek cancer
  • Lip cancer
  • Tongue cancer

Some risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Infection with HPV (human papillomavirus) 
  • Heavy drinking of alcohol
  • Smokeless tobacco user
  • Cigarette/cigar/pipe smoking
  • Family history of cancer
  • Too much sun exposure

The Oral Cancer Screening Process

You do not have to do anything special to prepare for a mouth cancer screening, except brush and floss your teeth. The dentist simply looks all around inside the oral cavity (mouth) for any unusual red or white patches, mouth sores, bleeding, or problems swallowing, moving your jaw, or talking. 

Then, with gloves on, your dentist will feel the soft tissues in your mouth. They look for lumps and any symptoms of tongue cancer, checking the sides of the tongue and under your tongue.

Your dentist can also tell if something is just a cold sore, aphthous ulcer, or canker sore. They may provide you with medication or mouth rinses to help with those issues, too, which gives you great peace of mind.If the dentist sees anything that looks like potential cancer cells, they may numb the area and do a biopsy. If your dentist finds something suspicious, you can find out a correct diagnosis early, then get a referral to a specialist to find out what treatment options you have.