Most general dentists follow a similar process for oral cancer screenings, which are effective in finding any potential concerns. This review discusses what takes place during an oral cancer screening, providing a step-by-step layout of exactly to expect.
Every general dentist may have their own process for an oral cancer screening. However, most involve an examination of the patient’s cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, and throat to look for mouth sores, discolored patches, lumps, and other abnormalities and a review of dental X-rays.
Reviewing the patient’s symptoms and medical history
The first thing that general dentists do in most cases is to review the patient’s reported symptoms and medical history. This can provide more insights into the risk that the patient has of oral cancer. Based on this information, it can help the dentist and the patient find ways to lower the risk of oral cancer for the long term.
Checking for red or white patches inside the mouth
An oral examination may begin with the dentist examining the patient's mouth for any red or white patches, which may feel and look similar to mouth sores. However, unlike mouth sores, red or white patches associated with oral cancer do not go away on their own.
Feeling the soft tissue for lumps or other abnormalities
After searching for visible signs of red or white patches, the dentist can then feel around the soft tissues of the mouth (the cheeks, gums, etc.) to see if there are any abnormalities, such as unexplained lumps that should not be there. A biopsy can be taken if there are any concerns that do not seem to be going away on their own.
Examining the patient's throat and neck
Oral cancer can occur anywhere inside the mouth, and it may start or spread to the throat, neck, and jaw. Due to this, the general dentist may also examine the throat and neck thoroughly for any lumps that they can feel through the skin. If there are any concerns, they may order follow-up testing to determine exactly what the concern is.
Reviewing dental X-rays for any abnormalities
Dental X-rays may not reveal all instances of mouth cancer, but they can be helpful during an oral cancer screening. Specifically, dental X-rays can show if there is any cancer in the jaw that has spread from another area of the mouth or originated in the jaw.
Our general dentistry practice offers oral cancer screenings. If you are over the age of 55, are genetically male, or are at a higher risk of oral cancer for other reasons, we encourage you to contact our team today to schedule an oral cancer screening at a time that is convenient for you. Our screenings are non-invasive and do not take much time to complete.
Request an appointment here: https://familydentistphoenix.com or call Phoenix Family Dentistry at (602) 547-9007 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.