3 Things To Know About Oral Cancer Screenings During A Dental Visit

If you haven't been to the dentist in a while and have an upcoming appointment, there might be one thing the dentist does that is different from what you remember. This one thing is an oral cancer screening, and many dentists are now completing these during normal routine checkups. Here are three things you should know about oral cancer screenings.

Why do dentists do this?

Dentists complete oral cancer screenings as a precaution. An oral cancer screening takes only about one minute to complete, but it could be an important minute in your life. If your dentist notices anything unusual in your mouth, he or she will point it out to you and suggest what you should do about it.

Cancer screenings in dentistry can save lives because they can spot problems at an early stage. With cancer, early detection is extremely helpful in treatment, and your dentist might be the only professional you visit that will provide this screening for you.

How is it completed?

There are several steps involved with an oral cancer screening, which include examining:

  • The insides of your cheeks and gums
  • Your tongue and the area under it
  • Your tonsils
  • The glands in your neck

The dentist will examine each of these areas and will look for signs of discoloration, lesions, or growths. After it is complete, the dentist will tell you whether your mouth looks normal or if there are issues that need to be addressed.

What happens next?

If the dentist sees anything that looks potentially harmful or suspicious, you may be referred to a specialist. While this does not mean that you have oral cancer, it means that you should have someone look at it to determine what it is. You will probably be referred to an oral dental specialist. This is a type of dentist that specializes in diagnosing and treating oral cancer.

During your first visit, the specialist may want to take a biopsy of the suspicious area in your mouth. The sample taken during the biopsy is then sent to a lab for further evaluation. This will determine if you have oral cancer or not. If the sample is not cancerous, you will have nothing to worry about. If it is cancerous, the specialist will determine how to treat it.

Getting an oral cancer screening during a routine dental checkup is quite normal, and you should expect this at your next appointment. If you would like to learn more about this or other dental services, contact a general dentist today.