Request Request Appointment Patient Portal Patient Portal Contact Offices

How Does My Dentist Check for Oral Cancer?

April 12, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — docmichael @ 7:50 pm
Dentist smiles

Did you know that dentists regularly screen their patients for oral cancer? While thankfully rare, oral cancers are quite dangerous and are best caught early to prevent major health problems. It only takes a few moments for your dentist to check for oral cancer, so you probably won’t even notice that they are doing it during your routine exams and cleanings. Here’s a brief guide to how your dentist checks their patients’ soft tissues for abnormalities so that they can save lives.

Why Does My Dentist Screen for Oral Cancer?

While your dentist is probably not equipped to treat cancer, they are the medical professional that spends the most time inspecting patients’ mouths. Since everyone is supposed to see their dentist at least twice a year for routine exams and cleanings, dentists are able to detect oral cancer-related problems in their early stages and refer patients to specialists if needed. Oral cancer screenings do not take much time, so having them as regular parts of routine dental exams is a practical precaution that has saved many lives.

How Does My Dentist Screen for Oral Cancer?

During your routine dental exam, your dentist will visually inspect the soft tissues in your mouth and may also use gloved fingers to probe at your tissues or feel around your throat and neck for any abnormalities. You may be referred to a specialist if they find issues like:

  • Swelling, bumps, or lumps
  • Unusually thickened, tough, or knotty areas
  • Red or white patches on soft tissues

What Are Some Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?

A person’s habits and genetics can make them more or less likely to develop oral cancer. A few risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop the condition include:

  • Use of tobacco in any form
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Having been previously diagnosed with cancer
  • Excessive sun exposure, which can increase the likelihood of lip cancer

Your dentist plays many crucial roles in preserving your overall health, and oral cancer screenings are just one of them. Detecting oral cancer early can allow a patient to have it treated effectively and reach the best possible outcome.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Michel earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. He is a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Kansas Dental Association and the former president of the Topeka District Dental Society. His offices in Topeka and Silver Lake, KS offer general, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. To learn more about how your dentist protects your overall health, contact his office online.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.