Although we provide every patient with an oral cancer screening at every regular check-up, it is best to conduct self-exams every month in between your biannual visits. You can do this by using a bright light and a mirror to inspect your lips, gums, and the inside of your cheeks for any unusual spots. It is important to tilt your head back and move your tongue up and down to be able to clearly see the roof and floor of your mouth. Next, you need to feel for lumps on the sides of your neck and lower jaw, and feel for enlarged lymph nodes. If you notice anything out of the ordinary during this self-exam, call to schedule an appointment with us immediately!
Regular screenings by our expert dentists at Central Avenue Dental are also crucial to ensure that your oral health remains on track, but we understand medical exams can feel nerve racking if you do not know what to expect. Keep reading so you can prepare for every step that goes into an oral cancer screening, and so that you can understand that we are providing the most thorough examination we can.
A screening will cover a visual and physical exam of your oral cavity and the connected tissues. This includes thoroughly inspecting the face, neck, lips, inside of the nose and oral cavity. When our dentist begins the screening, he will examine these areas for swelling, bumps, patches of abnormal coloring, asymmetries or ulcerations. To get a clear visual of the back of your throat, we will use a tongue depressor to hold down the tongue. We will also use a mirror and a light for a clear visual of your gums, inner cheeks, roof of the mouth, tonsils and throat.
You should expect our dentist to touch all of these areas as they search for any abnormal lumps. They will want to know if any of these areas are painful when pressure is applied, as oral cancer can cause discomfort around the oral cavity. After the screening is complete, your dentist will then notify you of any abnormalities. We may need to perform a series of dental X-rays to see the details of these abnormalities more clearly.
In order to accurately diagnose any lumps or lesions seen in our X-rays as cancerous, a sample of the cells in these areas will need to be sent to an outside laboratory for testing. This step is often referred to a specialist or to your primary care physician. If you are a heavy smoker or drinker, or if you have been affected by oral HPV (human papillomavirus), you are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer. It is highly recommended to come in for multiple oral screenings throughout the year for early detection, as early detection is key to fighting off this potentially life-threatening disease.
At Central Avenue Dental, we perform an oral cancer screening during every regular exam and cleaning you come in to see us for. If you have any questions regarding oral cancer, please give us a call at (704) 900- 7301. We are happy to help!