Lighthouse Family Dentistry
37 Old Solomons Island Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
Screening Tests For Oral Cancer
A physical examination for oral cancer may be done during a routine oral examination by your dentist. All areas of the mouth are checked for oral cancer including the high-risk areas of the mouth such as the floor of the mouth, the front and sides of the tongue, and the soft palate. The exam will also include looking for lesions on the mucous membranes. The dentist or hygienist will also physically palpate areas of the head and neck to feel for any suspicious lumps or bumps in the soft tissue.
In addition to the physical examination, an oral cancer screening should be routine at least once a year and performed by your general dentist. Make sure your general dentist offers an oral cancer screening test in addition to the examination they will give you. This is the only way to win the battle against oral cancer.
Regular Dental Check-ups Are Important
Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it.
Your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue and in some patients may notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore. Although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart. If you have a sore with a likely cause, your dentist may treat it and ask you to return for re-examination.
Your dentist may notice a spot or sore that looks harmless and does not have a clear cause. To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous, your dentist may choose to perform a test or a biopsy.
Here is why screening and early detection are so important. In order for your dentist to do a biopsy, they need to actually see the lesion. Once a dentist can actually see a lesion with their eyes, it may be a later stage cancerous lesion. A screening enables your dentist to find these suspicious lesions much earlier, which can mean the difference between life and death.
Suggest that your dentist use one of the new screening technologies available today such as Vizilite Plus in addition to their visual examination so that these can be found much earlier in their development. Let’s all work together so we can win this battle against oral cancer.