Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Screening | Woodshore Family Dentistry

Oral cancer screening, or oral screening for mouth cancer, is a series of physical, visual, and screening tests performed by dentists or doctors in an attempt to identify mouth cancer symptoms.


Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening, or oral screening for mouth cancer, is a series of physical, visual, and screening tests performed by dentists or doctors in an attempt to identify mouth cancer symptoms. If you have any precancerous conditions or cancerous lesions, the dentist will be able to identify it before it gets serious. Oral cancer can be extremely hard to treat if it advances so it should be treated at an early stage. Please continue reading for a detailed discussion of oral cancer screening.

Why do you Need Oral Cancer Screening?

The most obvious reason you need oral cancer screening is so that you can detect and treat oral cancer before it gets serious. In some cases, a dentist cancer screening test can even prevent oral cancer altogether.

Dental cancer screening is especially beneficial for those who have a high likelihood of getting mouth cancer. While mouth cancer can occur to anyone, it is especially common amongst the following people:

  • Those who frequently consume tobacco, as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes, or etc.
  • Those who consume vast quantities of alcohol frequently.
  • Those who are constantly exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Those who have received an oral cancer diagnosis before.

How can a Dentist Check for Oral Cancer?

The following are the primary methods of oral screening for mouth cancer.


Visual Examination for Mouth Cancer Symptoms

As the name suggests, a visual examination for oral cancer means the oral screening dentist will visually inspect your mouth, neck, lips, and oral cavities to look for signs of oral cancer. If you wear appliances like retainers, braces, or mouth guards, the dentist will need you to remove them. The oral cancer screening dentist will mostly look for signs and symptoms of oral cancer such as red and white patches, non-healing wounds, swelling, bumps, and other such signs. The oral cancer screening dentist will also hold your tongue down with a tongue depressor and flash a light inside your mouth to inspect the inner reaches of your oral cavity. The dentist may also use other tools and devices to visually examine other parts of your mouth.

Physical Examination for Oral Cancer Symptoms

After the visual examination, the oral cancer screening dentist will also physically inspect your mouth. The dentist will touch different parts of your mouth to look for abnormalities in your cheeks, head, jaws, and oral cavities. The oral cancer screening dentist will largely look for bumps and swellings that may not be visually evident. If you have immobility in some part of your mouth, the dentist will touch the affected region and ask you to describe the sensation. The dentist may also ask you how it feels to swallow and a few other such questions.

Dentist Oral Cancer Screening Test

Once the physical and visual examination is done, you may have to go through a dentist oral cancer screening test. This will include the following steps:

  • The dentist will shine a special light into your mouth in order to detect signs of oral cancer. — this light makes regular tissues appear dark but it makes abnormal tissues appear white.
  • You may also be asked to rinse your mouth with a special blue dye that remains on abnormal tissues, making them more visible during inspection.

What is a VELscope?

VELscope is one of the leading dentist oral cancer screening tests available. This is a handheld scope that the dentist directs into your throat to visualize and detect oral cancer abnormalities, including any possible precancerous conditions.


How to Prevent Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can occur to anyone, even if you don’t lead a life full of its risk factors. As such, there’s no means of entirely ensuring you’ll never get mouth cancer. But you can take certain measures to drastically reduce your risk of oral cancer.

The following are some of the most effective ways to prevent or minimize oral cancer risk.


NO Tobacco: As previously mentioned, tobacco consumption is one of the leading risk factors for oral cancer. So you can drastically reduce your risk of mouth cancer by giving up on tobacco or any kind, be it cigarettes, pipes, or chewable tobacco. This will limit your mouth’s exposure to cancerous chemicals and substances.

Limited Alcohol: It’s okay to drink alcohol within limits, but going overboard with alcohol consumption can increase your risk of oral cancer. You can have up to two drinks a day until you’re 65 and you should only have one drink a day when you’re past 65. Going beyond that limit will increase your exposure to cancerous substances and alter your cells.

Sunlight Protection: Continued exposure to direct sunlight is a huge risk factor for oral cancer. But it may not be completely realistic to limit your exposure to sunlight altogether, especially if your job depends on you working outdoors. However, you can wear protective gear and wide-brimmed hats or caps to shade your mouth.

Regular Oral Cancer Screening: You don’t need to set up specific oral cancer screening sessions. You can find a dental cleaning that provides complimentary oral cancer screening along with a regular dental cleaning session. If you get regular oral cancer screening tests, the dentist will be able to identify precancerous conditions and help you avoid oral cancer altogether, even if you’re on the brink.


This place is great! Everyone is so kind and very professional. The dentist is awesome also. He takes the time to listen and gives you all the options with no pressure. They are also great with kids here. My 10 and 3 year old also do well when they come here. I highly recommend this place for anyone who wants great care for their teeth.

Laura H.

The entire office is very friendly. They go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. I really appreciated the extra time each Doctor took to review my medical history.  Very gentle, kind and confident dental care.

Paula H.

I can’t say enough about my experience at this dental office! The entire staff was very friendly, from the second I walked in to the time I walked out. The doctor took the time to explain all that was going on, and he was very gentle in his approach which is what I like. Highly recommend this place!


Me and my wife had been looking for a new dentist and we finally found them. This group of people are great. Extremely courteous and good at what they do. I couldn’t be more pleased with our new dentists and would highly recommend them to anyone.

Paul S.

The staff was so friendly and helpful. You can tell they really care about their patients and love what they do. They all made the experience really easy & comfortable. Highly recommend!

Kurstie P.

Hadn’t been to the dentist in 3 years because I just didn’t like it… tried this one out. Very kind and professional staff, friendly, outgoing, made me feel welcome. Definitely would recommend this dentist

Meena D.

The office is very clean and my daughter loved the tv in the ceiling to watch while her work was being done. Thanks again to the staff and doctor for making her feel comfortable.

Michael J.

Great customer service from check in to check out! It was my daughter’s first dental appointment and the staff made her very comfortable!

Santanna W.

The staff was very welcoming and friendly! Dr. Pattni explained my plan thoroughly and made sure I was comfortable during my treatment which I really appreciated. They also perform orthodontic work at affordable prices which is great because now I only have to go to one office for all of my dental needs. Not to mention the decor, ambiance, and state-of-the-art equipment is truly exceptional! Will definitely be coming back!

Anjani P.

FAQs About Oral Cancer Screening

Can a Dentist Diagnose Oral Cancer?

Do dentists check for oral cancer? They most certainly do.

You can seek an oral cancer screening test from all kinds of dentists, including orthodontists. Most dentists provide oral cancer screening as a complementary service in addition to your regular dental checkup or dental cleaning session.

How can we Detect Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer isn’t just restricted to the outer parts of your mouth. It can also happen in your tongue, cheeks, the roof and floor of your mouth, or your gums. During a dental cancer screening, the dentist will ask you if you are suffering from the following signs and symptoms.

  • Frequently occurring sores in your lips and mouth.
  • Presence of patches in your mouth — either red or white.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Sensation of lumps in your mouth.
  • Frequent pain in your mouth or ears.
  • Difficulty while speaking or swallowing.

Best Clinic for Oral Cancer Screening

At Woodshore Family Dentistry, we have extremely well-trained and specialized oral cancer screening dentists who can run various oral cancer screening tests to detect oral cancer before it gets serious. In addition to detecting oral cancer in its early stages, this test can also give you some mental peace knowing that you don’t have oral cancer. If you have any other questions, please schedule your oral cancer screening appointment today.