An oral cancer screening is when your doctor or dentist thoroughly examines the oral cavity for signs of cancerous or precancerous conditions that might be present in the mouth. Oral cancer screenings serve the purpose of identifying oral cancer early enough that is able to be treated and likely cured.
Your dentist most likely preforms minor oral cancer screenings during routine office visits. If he/she notices something strange or abnormal cells, he/she may order additional tests to identify areas of concern.
There is no single organization that claims a specific age in which you should be screened for oral cancer, but most agree that regular routine examinations during cleanings is enough to suffice. However, if your risk factors put you at more of a risk for developing oral cancer you should talk to your doctor or dentist about scheduling additional tests.
Self-Examinations for Oral Cancer
Though your dentist or doctor will evaluate the condition of your oral cavity during regular, routine office visits it is important that you also monitor your mouth for any changes that could indicate oral cancer.
When doing a self-examination of the mouth you want to take care to examine all areas of the mouth. This includes all areas of the tongue (underneath, back, front and sides), the inside walls of the cheeks, the gums and the lips. You are looking for any red, peach or white spots that appear abnormal.
You should also keep an eye out for sores that do not appear to be healing properly or that bleed excessively. Additionally, if you notice any pain while swallowing or chewing, or if you notice a strange numbness, you should contact your doctor or dentist immediately.
Oral cancer is nothing to mess around with. Having regular checkups and doing at-home self-examinations frequently could ultimately prevent you from developing a life threatening case of oral cancer.
Please contact us if you have any questions about oral cancer.