Oral cancer screening is one of the most important diagnostic exams performed by a dentist or doctor. As the name suggests, the primary purpose of a dentist oral cancer screening test is to identify signs of oral cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth.

You should ideally spot and stop oral cancer at the earliest stage possible because it quickly becomes dangerous. As such, during dental cancer screening, your dentist will look for early signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

At Sapphire Dental, our dentist performs oral cancer screening during a routine dental visit or oral exam. If necessary, we may also use additional tests to identify precancerous lesions or abnormal cells in your mouth. We also provide thorough oral exams with mouth cancer screening as a part of our 99 special for new patients.

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Importance of Dental Cancer Screening

The primary importance of dental cancer screening is obvious — identifying mouth cancer or precancerous lesions as early as possible. Cancerous lesions are easiest to remove or treat when they’re still at an early stage.

The number of people displaying oral cancer symptoms has been rising in recent years. The exact reason for this rise isn’t obvious, but one thing has become increasingly clear — anyone can get oral cancer. You may suffer from mouth cancer even if you’ve done everything right to avoid it. As such, everyone should seek regular oral cancer exams.

While oral cancer may occur to anyone, you’re at a higher risk of oral cancer if:

  • You consume tobacco in any form, including cigars, chewing tobacco, smoking, cigarettes, pipes, etc.
  • You’re constantly exposed to direct sunlight, which increases the risk of mouth cancer.
  • You’re a heavy alcohol drinker.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with oral cancer previously.
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Signs of Mouth Cancer & Oral Cancer

Oral cancer often gets confused with mouth cancer, however, the two bear a slight difference. Oral cancer is a subset of mouth cancer. Signs of mouth cancer may develop in your lips, gums, tongue, the inner lining of the cheeks, or the roof and floor of your mouth. However, signs of oral cancer develop within the mouth — the inner lining of the cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, or in your oral cavities.

During your dental cancer screening, your dentist will look for signs of mouth cancer and signs of oral cancer. The following are the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer and oral cancer:

  • Lip or mouth sores that don’t heal.
  • Red or white patches inside your mouth.
  • Loosened teeth.
  • Lumps inside the mouth.
  • Mouth pains.
  • Earaches.
  • Difficulty while swallowing.
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Dentist Oral Cancer Screening Test

During your dentist oral cancer screening test, the dentist will look inside the mouth for signs of oral cancer, such as white and red patches or abnormal lumps. The dentist will also feel around inside your mouth because some of the signs of oral cancer are felt rather than seen with the naked eye. Your dentist will also examine your throat and neck for lumps and mouth cancer signs.

Following the visual and physical inspection, your dentist may also use an oral cancer screening test.

  • Oral Cancer Screening Dye: The dentist will ask you to rinse with a special blue due before the oral cancer exam. The dye will cling to the abnormal cells, staining them blue, making them easier to detect.
  • Oral Cancer Screening Light: The dentist may shine a special light into your mouth during the oral cancer exam. The light will highlight abnormal tissues as white, setting them off against the dark healthy tissues.

If your dentist identifies signs of mouth cancer or signs of oral cancer, they will ask you to return in a few weeks to see if the abnormal cells are still present. The dentist may also extract a small sample of the cells for laboratory testing to determine if they are cancerous cells.

Do you need to schedule an oral cancer screening? Call us today!

Oral Cancer Screening Q&As

What are the initial symptoms of oral cancer?

Initial symptoms of oral cancer include non-healing wounds or sores in your mouth, mouth pains, difficulty swallowing, or white and red patches inside your mouth.

Does a routine blood test check for cancer?

Routine blood tests are usually complete blood count tests (CBC), and they count your red and white blood cells to uncover various issues, including blood cancer. However, they don’t necessarily check for oral cancer.

Do regular X-rays detect cancer?

Dental x-rays can help the dentist identify signs of oral cancer in your oral cavities. However, x-rays usually capture advanced oral cancer, rather than early signs of mouth cancer.

How to prevent oral cancer?

There are no proven means of preventing oral cancer. As mentioned earlier, you may even get oral cancer if you spend your whole life trying to avoid it. However, you can drastically minimize the risk of oral cancer with certain lifestyle habits:

  • Tobacco Use: If you use tobacco in any form, stop immediately. Tobacco exposes your mouth to dangerous chemicals that increase the risk of mouth cancer and oral cancer.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcohol is alright, as long as you do it in moderation. You should consume a maximum of two drinks a day if you’re younger than 65 and one drink a day if you’re older than 65 years.
  • Sun Exposure: Continued exposure to the sun increases your risk of mouth cancer. As such, if you must be out under the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your mouth and apply a sunscreen lip balm.
  • Regular Oral Exams: You must schedule regular dentist oral cancer screening tests and dental checkups. The dentist will look for early signs of oral cancer, treating at an early stage.

Do you want to learn more about Oral Cancer Screenings? Ask us!

Contact Sapphire Smiles for Oral Cancer Exam in Houston Heights

At Sapphire Smiles, we conduct a thorough oral cancer exam along with our routine dental checkups. First-time patients can also avail of the $99 special, including digital x-rays, dental checkups, and teeth cleaning. Please schedule an appointment for more information.