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 them before it gets serious. Oral cancer can be extremely hard to treat if it advances, so it should be treated at an early stage. Let us help you by contacting our dental office to schedule an appointment for an oral cancer screening in Clute.
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's 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 it knows no age, it is especially common amongst the following people:
Those who frequently consume tobacco, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes, 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 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 mouthguards, the dentist will need you to remove them. The 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 dentist will also hold your tongue down with a tongue depressor and flashlight inside your mouth to inspect the inner reaches of your oral cavity. They 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 dentist will also physically inspect your mouth. They will touch different parts of your mouth to look for abnormalities in your cheeks, head, jaws, and oral cavities. The 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. They may also ask you how it feels to swallow and a few other such questions.
Dental Oral Cancer Screening Test
Once the physical and visual examination is done, you may have to go through an oral cancer screening test. This will include the following steps:
The dentist will shine a special light into your mouth 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 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.
Can I 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:
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.
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.
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.
Oral Cancer Screening FAQs
Can a Dentist Diagnose Oral Cancer?
How Can We Detect 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.
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 if you are suffering from the following signs and symptoms:
Frequently occurring sores on your lips and mouth.
Presence of patches in your mouth — either red or white.
The sensation of lumps in your mouth.
Frequent pain in your mouth or ears.
Difficulty while speaking or swallowing.