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Regular dental check-ups aren't just about keeping your smile bright; they also play a critical role in detecting potentially life-threatening oral cancers. During an oral cancer screening, your dentist conducts a thorough examination of various parts of your mouth and throat to look for any suspicious signs or symptoms that may call for further investigation. Here's a breakdown of what usually takes place during this screening:

  1. Symptom questions. Your dentist may ask you about any symptoms you've been experiencing, such as ongoing sore throat, difficulty swallowing or chewing, changes in voice, or unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
  2. Visual examination. Your dentist carefully examines your lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, throat, and other oral tissues for any unusual signs like sores, patches, lumps, or changes in color or texture.
  3. Physical palpation. Using gloved hands, the dentist gently feels the tissues inside your mouth and neck to detect any abnormal lumps, bumps, or areas of tenderness.
  4. Special tools. Some screenings may involve the use of specialized tools like mirrors, lights, or tongue depressors to get a clearer view of areas that are difficult to see.
  5. Risk Assessment. Considering factors like tobacco and alcohol use, sun exposure, family history of cancer, and previous oral cancer diagnoses, your dentist evaluates your risk level for developing oral cancer.
  6. Patient Education. Throughout the screening process, your dentist may provide valuable information about oral cancer risk factors, prevention strategies, and the importance of regular dental check-ups and self-examinations.
  7. Referral. Should any suspicious lesions or abnormalities be detected, your dentist may recommend more tests, such as a biopsy, or refer you to a specialist for further examination and treatment.

An oral cancer screening is a quick and painless procedure designed to catch oral cancer or precancerous conditions early on, leading to better treatment outcomes. It's typically included as part of routine dental exams, particularly for individuals with higher risk factors for oral cancer. Don't hesitate to inquire about oral cancer screenings today when you book your next dental appointment.