Dentists play a vital role in detecting the signs and symptoms of oral cancer during routine dental cleanings and exams. Regular dental visits provide an opportunity for dentists to thoroughly examine the oral cavity and identify any abnormalities that may indicate oral cancer. Here's how dentists can help spot the signs of oral cancer during cleanings and exams. 

Visual Examination

Dentists will visually inspect your oral tissues, including the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, and throat. They will look for any unusual or suspicious changes in the color, texture, or size of these tissues. They will also check for any sores, ulcers, or lesions that do not heal within a reasonable period.

Physical Palpation

Dentists may gently palpate (feel) the oral tissues to detect any lumps, swellings, or other abnormalities. They will examine the lymph nodes in the neck and under the jaw to identify any signs of enlargement or tenderness, which may indicate the spread of cancerous cells.

Dental X-Rays

X-rays can help dentists detect changes in the bone structure or identify any abnormal masses that may not be visible during a visual examination. Dental X-rays can provide a more comprehensive view of the teeth, jawbone, and surrounding structures, aiding in the early detection of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Screening Tools

Dentists may utilize specialized screening devices or tests to aid in the detection of oral cancer. These may include the use of oral cancer screening dyes, special lights, or other technologies that help identify abnormal cells or tissues.

Patient History

Dentists will review your medical and dental history, including any risk factors associated with oral cancer, such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, and previous history of oral cancer or other cancers. They will inquire about any symptoms or concerns you may have related to your oral health and perform a thorough evaluation based on the information provided. If your dentist detects any suspicious findings during a cleaning or exam, further diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy or referral to a specialist, may be recommended to confirm the presence of oral cancer. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment outcomes, and dentists play a crucial role in identifying and referring potential cases of oral cancer to the appropriate healthcare providers.

It is important to maintain regular dental visits and promptly report any changes or symptoms you notice in your oral health. Open communication with your dentist about your overall health, lifestyle habits, and concerns can assist them in providing comprehensive care and early detection of oral cancer.

Contact a dentist like Dan Czapek, D.M.D. to learn more.