Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is an integral part of our preventive dentistry practices at Weissman Dental. We understand the importance of not only reassuring you that there are no apparent issues, but also to initiate treatment if there are. We may even recommend more frequent oral cancer screenings if your lifestyle choices include tobacco use or daily consumption of alcohol. You’ll never have to ask for an oral cancer screening when you visit our dental office. It’s simply included with your routine cleaning and exam. There is no need for previous symptoms in order to receive one.
What to Expect From an Oral Cancer Screening
The first part of an oral cancer screening is a visual exam of your oral cavity, including all connective tissues. We will also examine your lips, neck, face, and the inside of your nose. During the screening, you will be asked to take out any removable restoration devices to expose as much of your mouth as possible. Signs of oral cancer that we look for include asymmetries, bumps, swellings, ulcerations, white patches, patches of color, and other abnormalities. During this process, we use a light, mirror, and a tongue depressor. Various other tools may be used to inspect your inner cheeks, gums, roof of your mouth, throat, tonsils, and underneath your tongue. Next, we’ll perform a physical exam by touching around your jaw, cheeks, and head, as well as feel around in your mouth for masses or nodules. We will also ask if you have any immobility in typically mobile tissue, which can also be a sign of a potential problem.
Oral Cancer Screening Devices
In addition to the tools mentioned above, there are also specialized examination tools we may use during your oral cancer screening. These can include a brush for painlessly removing cells for testing, a scope with a blue light for identifying suspicious tissue, or a tool that releases a slightly acidic rinse to assist with visual inspection. We won’t ask you to pronounce the name of another useful tool we may use known as a nasopharyngolaryngoscope, but it’s a flexible fiber optic camera that allows us to view the very back of your throat, your larynx, and your pharynx.
Following Your Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is a preventive process and is not diagnostic. If we find anything suspicious, however, it’s likely that we will recommend more involved screening such as taking a biopsy to send to our lab. This is especially true if you use tobacco or drink alcohol regularly. We want you to remember that recommending further inspection doesn’t mean a cancer diagnosis. And even if cancer is ultimately detected, the American Dental Association reports that the early stages of oral cancer are highly treatable.
An oral cancer screening at Weissman Dental is more than simply a medical exam. Instead, it’s a time for you to share your fears and concerns and to learn about ways to reduce your risk. If you’re nervous about getting a screening, remember that many times a short examination can give you peace of mind. To learn more about lowering your risk for oral cancer, call us at (503) 274-2222 to schedule an exam.