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What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening

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oral cancer screening

Did you know that oral cancer is most likely to develop on the tongue, tonsils, gums, and on the floor of the mouth?

It can be stressful to have an oral cancer screening exam if you don’t know what to expect.

But once you complete your exam and receive the results, you will have peace of mind in knowing whether or not you have cancer in your mouth.

We’ve written a guide that breaks down everything you need to know to be prepared for an oral cancer screening exam. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more.

Oral Cancer Screening: What It Is

When our North York dentists perform an oral cancer screening, they will be looking for signs of cancer in your mouth. They will pay especially close attention to your jaw, tongue, and mouth.

Additionally, the dentist will probably also examine your gums, lips, tongue, and tonsils. If there is a particular part of your mouth and throat that you are concerned about, it is important to let our dentist know.

Why Is It Important to Get Checked for Mouth Cancer?

Oral cancer is one of the more common types of cancers that occur in the neck and the head. In fact, every year more than 7,500 people receive oral cancer diagnoses in Canada.

About half of all people who are diagnosed with this type of cancer are still alive five years after they’ve received a diagnosis.

Thankfully, it is easy to diagnose oral cancer. But it does have higher fatality rates than other kinds of cancer. This is because medical professionals don’t tend to diagnose it until it is late in its development.

The best thing you can do to make sure that you don’t have this disease is to get an oral cancer screening.

How to Know if You Should Get a Screening for Oral Cancer

Your healthcare provider will be able to detect oral cancer before you start to experience symptoms. If you find out about it while it is still in its early stages, treatment will be more likely to be successful.

If there is a part of your mouth or your throat that is bothering you, it is important to take note of what symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

If these symptoms last for more than a couple of days, it is a good idea to get ahold of your dentist to let her or him know what is bothering you. They will know whether or not it is a good idea to get an oral cancer screening.

Do Dentists Perform Oral Cancer Screenings During Routine Exams?

There are many types of healthcare providers who are capable of performing oral cancer exams.

If you are in the process of choosing a dentist in North York, it is a good idea to find out whether or not they will include oral cancer exams as a part of routine checkups.

Be aware that oral cancer exams won’t be able to diagnose cancer.

If your dentist suspects that you have oral cancer, they will help you to find the right oncologist to do further tests, offer a diagnosis, and create a treatment plan.

How Early Is It Possible to Detect Oral Cancer?

The best thing you can do to detect oral cancer in its early phases is to get an oral cancer screening.

If your dental provider notices something abnormal, they will help you to understand what your options are.

The only sure way to figure out if you have oral cancer is to collect suspicious cells and examine them in a lab.

Preparing for an Oral Cancer Screening

You don’t need to do anything to prepare for an oral cancer screening. Your dentist can perform an examination when you visit them for a routine dental checkup.

Here is what you should expect when a dentist performs this exam.

A Visual Exam

During this part of your oral cancer screening exam, your dentist will look for areas of abnormal tissue in your mouth and throat.

If they see thick white patches or areas that are abnormally red, they might recommend that you get further testing. Your dentist also might photograph areas of concern so that they can monitor them.


Your dentist will use their fingers to feel bumps on your face and around your jaw. It is important to tell him or her if there are any areas on your face that are sore.

Toluidine Blue Dye

It is possible that your dentist will use an oral cancer screening dye to look for evidence of cancer. Expect them to cover any lesions with this dye. This will help them to pinpoint areas that have the potential to become cancerous.

Oral Cancer Screening Light

Your dentist might also use a light to look for signs of cancer. You’ll need to rinse your mouth with a fluorescent mouthwash so that the screening light can detect abnormal tissues.

Your dentist will then shine a screening light into your mouth. If there is any abnormal tissue in your mouth or throat, it will look white.

Oral Cancer Screening: A Quick and Simple Process

It is a good idea to choose a dentist that offers oral cancer screening as part of their routine checkups. If they notice anything abnormal after performing this examination, they will recommend that you visit an oncologist.

Are you looking for quality dental services in North York? If so, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with DentalX today.