An oral cancer screening is, in essence, a physical and visual examination of the oral cavity and connecting tissues and is done to reassure patients that there are no problems, or to initiate immediate and early treatment if there are. For this reason, dentists will usually carry out a screening during a dental check-up.
A dentist may also suggest that a patient undergoes a screening based on their lifestyle choices, or alternatively, a patient may request a cancer screening as a precaution, based on previous family history. Either way, oral cancer screening is an integral part of preventative dentistry, so what can you expect?
When you visit the team at 44 Dental Care, we will pay particular attention to the neck, face, lips, inside of the nose and of course, the oral cavity itself. Do bear in mind that we will ask you to remove any dental appliances such as dentures so that we can check out the area properly. Once that’s done, we’re good to go.
We may then ask you to lie down or stay sitting up, but what we are initially looking for are asymmetries. This could be any abnormal swellings, bumps, patches of discolouration and ulcerations. We will also use a small light to peer into the nose and mouth and use a stick-like object known as a tongue depressor to gently hold down the tongue while we take a look at the back of your mouth towards the throat area. We may even get you to say ‘ahh’ to expose the areas at the back of the throat towards the tonsils and at the same time, we’ll look at the inner cheeks, the roof of the mouth and under the tongue.
The physical examination
The second part of the oral cancer screening is the physical part. This can be carried out either during or after the visual inspection and involves:
- Touching the head and neck area
- Feeling gently around the cheeks
- Checking inside the oral cavity to feel for any nodules
We may also ask you whether you feel any discomfort in a particular area as this may be an indication that further tests may be needed. That said, while some oral swellings can be painful, not all are, so to err on the side of caution, they all need to be checked out.
The good news is that the whole process is non-invasive and is over in just a few short minutes
What happens next?
It’s important to note that any oral cancer screening is carried out as a precautionary measure and is not meant to be diagnostic. So when we suggest that you undergo an oral cancer screening or do it as part of the dental check-up procedure, don’t panic because it’s usually only routine. If our team to need to carry out more tests they will inform you. Even then it might not necessarily be for an oral cancer diagnosis.
Here at 44 Dental Care anyone who undergoes oral cancer screening can rest assured that they are in knowledgeable hands. In addition to being a medical examination, it’s also the perfect time for patients to ask us any questions they may have or to voice any concerns. Its also the perfect time for us to give you advice – if requested – about reducing your health risks.
If you’re looking for a new dentist and/or haven’t had oral cancer screening for a while, then come and talk to the team at 44 Dental Care. We take your oral and overall health very seriously and will do everything we can to ensure you remain oral cancer-free. To book a consultation, or to find out more about oral cancer screening, call the 44 Dental Care team on 0116 251 9647 today.