Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is a physical and visual exam performed on the mouth and connected tissues. The purpose of this screening is to guarantee patients that there is no apparent problem or to address issues if any are detected. Screening can be done upon patient request or by a doctor’s suggestion.
Oral Cancer Screening Processes
Oral cancer screening involves the neck, face, oral cavity, and other major related areas. Before the screening, a patient should remove all dental appliances to expose important areas to be screened. The dentist or doctor then checks for asymmetries, bumps, swellings, ulcerations, patches of color, and anything unusual.
For the dentist to get a clear picture of the inside parts of the nose and mouth, he uses a mirror and light together with a tongue depressor. At some point, the doctor might ask the patient to pronounce certain words to expose parts in the throat to make them easier to view.
After conducting the visual exam, our dentist will hold the head and cheeks of the patient, close to the jaw, and under the chin to determine if there are any abnormal masses or nodules. One of the signs of the existence of a problem is immobility in usually mobile tissues. Oral cancer symptoms are typically painful. However, a painless bump can also be a red flag.
Devices for Oral Cancer Screening
Besides the mirror and tongue depressor, a dentist may use other specialized examination tools to perform an oral cancer screening. For example, the Oral CDx is a brush that painlessly removes cells for testing, an Orascoptic DK is used to release an acidic substance to the mouth for optimal visual inspection, and a VELscope is a blue light that is used to identify unusual tissues in the mouth.
After Oral Cancer Screening
It is important to understand that oral cancer screening is a precautionary rather than a diagnostic exam. If the dentist detects abnormalities during the oral cancer screening, the patient might be asked to return for further examination. In some cases, the dentist may refer a patient to their medical doctor for additional screening. This does not mean the patient has oral cancer. It is a precautionary measure to be sure nothing is overlooked.
We invite you to ask more about an oral cancer screening during your next visit to Cypress Family Dental on Johns Island, South Carolina. Call our office to set up your next appointment. We look forward to welcoming you to the family!