An oral cancer screening is a visual and physical exam of the oral cavity and connected tissues. This simple exam is used to reassure a patient that there are no apparent problems, or inspire proactive treatment if there are. Depending on one’s lifestyle choices, your dentist may suggest a screening, or the patient may request a screening just as a precautionary measure.
Think of an oral cancer screening as a kind of early warning system for your mouth. Just like you’d regularly check your car for any issues to keep it running smoothly, you’d also want to regularly “inspect” your mouth to catch any potential problems early on. In the case of oral cancer, early detection is crucial because it dramatically increases your chances of successfully treating the disease. The longer cancer goes undetected, the more complicated and difficult it becomes to treat.
During an oral cancer screening, our dentist will look for any abnormal changes in your mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. They might be looking for things like sores, discolored areas, or lumps that don’t look quite right. They may also feel around your jaw and neck for any unusual bumps.
This process is quick and painless, but it can be a lifesaver. If anything suspicious is found, you can get further tests and start treatment as soon as possible, which can make a big difference in the outcome.
So, oral cancer screenings are like a safety check that can catch serious problems early, when they’re easier to deal with. Even if you feel fine, it’s still important to get screened regularly, especially if you have certain risk factors like smoking, heavy alcohol use, or a family history of oral cancer. It’s a small step that can have a big impact on your long-term health.