Oral Cancer Screenings: What You Should Know about the Procedure

Oral Cancer Screenings: What You Should Know about the Procedure

December 5, 2022

Mouth cancer screening helps dentists detect signs of oral cancer in your mouth. Dentist in Mississauga, ON examine your cheek linings, gums, lips, tongue, mouth roof and floor, checking for lesions and abnormalities. If they detect suspicious growths they refer you to oncologists for additional testing.

What Precisely Is Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screenings are exams to check for signs of cancer. Oral cancer includes mouth, jaw, and tongue cancer. The areas evaluated during oral cancer screenings include the cheek lining, mouth roof and floor, gums, lips, tongue, and tonsils.

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

Cancers of the head and neck affecting people globally are common signs of oral cancer. Approximately 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer yearly. The five-year survival rate of oral cancer is 57 percent. It indicates that roughly 50 percent of people affected by oral cancer survive over five years after getting diagnosed. Oral cancer isn’t challenging to identify. Unfortunately, the condition has higher fatality rates because oral cancer detection happens late after it develops. An oral cancer test is an excellent tool that helps with early diagnosis and treatment.

When do medical professionals recommend oral cancer screening?

Oral cancer screenings are recommended by medical professionals every year for people over 40 and every three years for adults in their 20s. Healthcare providers use screenings to detect cancer before symptoms appear. Oral cancer detected early and treated delivers better outcomes for patients.

Can Dentists Identify Oral Cancer?

Dentists are professionals you see twice yearly. Although many healthcare professionals can perform oral cancer screenings, dentists offer them as part of your routine dental exams. However, you must note that oral cancer screenings don’t help diagnose cancer. Instead, dentists provide the screening looking for signs of cancer and refer you to an oncologist if they find suspicious growths or abnormal red-and-white patches that don’t heal.

How Is Early Oral Cancer Identified?

The early signs of oral cancer are detected by screenings. However, the optimal technique to determine whether you have oral cancer is to have suspicious cells collected and tested from a laboratory after conducting a biopsy. If your dentist presumes you have oral cancer, they will refer you to specialists for evaluation.

Preparation for Oral Cancer Screening

You don’t need to prepare for these exams because you receive oral cancer screening in Mississauga, ON, during your routine dental checkup.

The dentist might use different oral cancer screening methods, including a visual exam, lights, oral screening dyes, and palpation. They might also take pictures of abnormal areas to monitor them. The screenings require under five minutes without subjecting you to unnecessary stress.

The visual exam helps the dentist look for lesions and abnormal tissue in your mouth and throat. The abnormalities include white patches or abnormally red areas. They might use their fingers with gloved hands to feel for lumps and bumps around your face, jaw, and neck. If you experience tender or sore areas, it helps if you inform the dentist about them.

Many dentists also have oral cancer screening tools like toluidine blue dye when looking for signs of oral cancer. They coat the suspicious lesions with the dye to help identify areas that might become cancerous. Dentists also have special rights to identify abnormal tissues in the mouth. When using the lights, dentists request you to rinse your mouth with fluorescent mouthwash before shining the light, making healthy tissue appear darker and abnormal tissue appear white.

What after Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screening is merely a preventive procedure to ensure you don’t have any suspicious growths or lesions in the mouth that might develop into oral cancer. However, if you have abnormal growths, you will need additional testing before you get an official diagnosis.

After completing oral cancer screening in Mississauga, the dentist shares their findings with you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist for further assessment. Further assessment for oral cancer includes tests like cytology, when cells from your mouth are collected for the pathologist to verify they are normal. The specialists might also recommend a biopsy to remove a portion of the abnormal tissue for analysis by a pathologist.

Oral cancer screenings in Mississauga, ON doesn’t indicate you are affected by this devastating condition. The presence of abnormal cells and a referral for further assessment is not an indicator of having oral cancer. Instead, the dentist will recommend a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to examine your mouth to determine whether the lesions have changed or disappeared.

Sherwood Forrest Dental performs oral cancer screenings on all patients visiting them for routine exams at six monthly intervals. The screenings are a preventive measure to keep your mouth free from oral cancer by detecting it early if present. If you haven’t received your routine dental exam, we suggest you get yourself screened immediately and receive a comprehensive mouth exam from this practice.