Oral Cancer Screenings
Staying Proactive Against Life-Threatening Disease
When you think about your routine dental appointment, you probably aren’t thinking about the many signs and symptoms that your dentist is thinking about. For example, while the general exam is mainly for catching the early signs of decay and early stages of gum disease, it’s also crucial to catching oral cancer in it’s early stages. When you visit Dental Innovations for preventive care, you can expect a thorough oral cancer screening as well! Learn more about the process below and what the dentists at Dental Innovations always look for during your checkup.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be difficult to catch in the early stages on your own, but it never hurts to perform a monthly self-exam of your many oral structures. This not only includes the mouth, but also the lips, gums, tongue, inner cheek, throat, roof and floor of the mouth, and neck for any abnormalities. If you discover any of the following signs or symptoms, you need to visit our office right away.
- Lip or mouth sore that does not heal after a two-week long period
- Mouth or ear pain
- Loose teeth
- White or reddish patches of tissue inside the mouth
- Difficulty or pain while swallowing
- Lumps, bumps, or thickened tissues
What Does My Dentist Look for During a Screening?
During the visual exam, our dentists are on the lookout for swellings, asymmetries, bumps, patches of color, ulcerations or other abnormalities that could be an indication for oral cancer. We may use tools to more closely examine deeper pockets of the mouth in order to be as thorough as possible.
Additionally, our dentists look for unusual modules or masses that may have grown inside your mouth. They may ask if specific spots or moving certain parts of your mouth causes discomfort. Keep in mind that you can experience no pain and still have swelling in the mouth that could be cancerous.
What to Expect During My Screening
To start, you’ll be asked to remove any oral appliances if you have them, such as a denture. During the visual exam, one of our dentists will look closely inside your mouth, using a light to examine your many oral structures. A tongue depressor makes it easy to see hard-to-reach areas. You’ve likely already experienced this process during a physical with your general practitioner. During the physical exam, the dentist will gently touch the head, cheeks, areas around the jaw, underneath the chin, and around the oral cavity for any issues. We’ll also ask you to swallow while the mouth is open so we can see the tissues deep inside your throat.
In the event that we find tissue that may be cancerous, Dr. Norman Kurtzman, our dedicated oral surgeon, can perform a biopsy in-house to test your tissue for cancerous cells.