Regular oral cancer screening by a dentist is painless and critical to improving treatment success.
As part of your routine dental exam, I conduct an oral cancer screening exam. I feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, I look for any sores or discolored tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.
If I discover tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious, I typically perform an oral brush biopsy. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, I recommend other tests to detect oral cancer early, before it has a chance to progress and spread.
Even though you may be conducting frequent self-exams, sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see on your own. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. Early detection is critical to improving the rate of successful treatment.
WebMD has a useful overview of oral cancer.
The Oral Cancer Foundation has deeper information on a variety of topics, including: