Areas To Examine When Screening For Oral Cancer

Jul 07, 2020

Oral cancer screening is an examination that a doctor or dentist performs to detect cancer signs. Precancerous conditions can also be detected through the screening. When mouth cancer is identified early, there is a high chance of curing it.

During routine visits, most dentists will examine our mouth for cancer. Some may use other tests to identify areas with abnormal cells inside your mouth.

Why Oral Cancer Screening is Done

The benefit associated with oral cancer screening is the detection of cancer in its early stages. The following factors will increase your risk of developing oral cancer:

  • Tobacco use: This includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
  • History of sun exposure(significant): This increases lip cancer risk

Over the last years, there has been a rise in throat and mouth cancer patients. Many of these cases are closely-associated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV)- a sexually transmitted infection.

Preparing for the Screening

Since screening for oral cancer is done during routine appointments at the dentist’s, there is no need for special preparation.

What to Expect

During the exam, the dentist will check for mouth sores and white or red patches inside your mouth. The dentist, wearing gloves, will then feel your mouth tissues to see if there are any lumps or any other abnormalities. Your dentist in South Houston may also look out for any lumps in your throat and neck.

Additional Tests

Besides the routine exam, there are special tests used by some dentists for screening. They may involve:

Screening dye: The dentist may ask you to use a blue dye in rinsing your mouth before an examination. Abnormal mouth cells take the color of the dye and are distinguished from the others.

Screening light: During the exam, the dentist shines light in your mouth. Upon being hit by the light, the healthy tissue appears dark, making the abnormal one appear white.

Areas to Examine

For your dentist to ascertain that you are entirely free of oral cancer, these are the parts that should be examined:

Face: The dentist will look for masses, asymmetry, ulceration, or discoloration. An evaluation of pigmented, ulcerated, raised, or firm skin regions are done. Your facial bones, soft tissue, and skeleton will be palpated.

Eyes: It is essential to check for extraocular movements in every direction. This tests for the involvement of the cranial nerve. Swellings of the eyes can be an indication of a tumor in its late stages.

Nose and Ears: Examination of your nasal cavity should include palpating the paranasal region and the external nose. During the exam, the patient’s hearing is tested by talking to them and assessing their acoustic nerve’s integrity. An inspection of the auricle is done, noting any erythematous, ulcerous, or pigmented lesions.

Neck: For this examination to take place, the patient has to be level with the dentist’s eye. Here is what is done:

  • The neck is palpated, comparing its sides for lymph node enlargement signs.
  • The jugular vein is examined
  • Palpating the supraclavicular spaces
  • Examining the inferior and anterior parotid groups

The Thyroid: Because it isn’t easy to feel the thyroid gland, it is first inspected and then palpated. Any tenderness should be recorded.

Lips: Our dentist should evaluate your lips with your mouth, both closed and open. This way, it is easy to note abnormalities in contour, color, texture, or symmetry. Your labial mucosa should have color uniformity. It also has to be smooth. Look out for white or red discolorations and texture variations on the labial mucosa.

Tongue: Your dentist may ask you to stick out your tongue then move it sideways. It should be able to do this with ease, devoid of asymmetry. He or she may note any swelling, masses, or ulceration.

Mouth floor: With your tongue elevated, inspect this region. Pay close attention to the frenulum and submandibular glands.

Limitations of Oral Cancer Screening

Need for additional tests: Oral exams during those regular visits to the dentist may not be able to tell apart cancerous sores and noncancerous ones.

Detection Issues: Detecting regions with abnormal cells just by observing can prove to be complicated. Because of this, some cancers can go unnoticed.

If you are found to exhibit oral cancer signs, the dentist may recommend two things:

  • Follow-up visits to check the state of the abnormal area.
  • Biopsy procedure

At Espili Dental, we care about your oral health. Our extensive range of treatment options ensures you get high-quality treatment before your problem advances. Are you looking for a dentist near you? Our dentist in Houston, TX, can’t wait to meet you. Book an appointment with us today.

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