Oral Cancer Screening

Does My Dentist Screen For Oral Cancer?!?!

Yes!!!  Although oral cancer may not get as much attention as some more widely-known types of cancer, that doesn’t mean it’s any less serious.  In fact, oral cancer is extremely dangerous because it usually isn’t detected until it has reached the advanced stages, which is why it is so important to be assessed while under pediatric care.

Luckily, there is a simple examination that can be performed to detect suspicious areas early.  The oral cancer screening is an important part of your child’s dental visit here at KidZdent. Your child will receive an oral cancer screening by their registered dental hygienist and dentist.    

A thorough screening for oral cancer is part of your child’s routine dental checkup here at KidZdent— another reason why they should be examined regularly at their six month cleanings. The screening includes a visual assessment of your child’s lips, tongue, and the inside of their mouth, including a check for red or white patches or unusual sores. Your child’s mouth may be palpated (pressed with fingers) to detect the presence of lumps and swellings, and their tongue may be gently pulled aside for a closer view. If anything appears to be out of the ordinary, a biopsy can be easily recommended.

  • Changes to oral tissue (texture)
  • Red/white patches
  • Persistent mouth sore
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Lump in neck (especially if it doesn't bother you)
  • Mouth or ear pain

This answer might surprise you. Oral cancer used to be thought of as an older person’s disease, and it still affects mostly those over 40. However, young people form the fastest-growing segment among oral cancer patients. This is primarily due to the spread of the sexually-transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16).

Of course, the other major risk factors still apply: If you’re middle aged or older, a moderate to heavy drinker or a tobacco user, you have a greater chance of developing oral cancer. Chronic exposure to the sun, long known to cause skin cancer, is also associated with cancers of the lips. Genetic factors are thought to have a major impact on those who get the disease as well.

Steps to a Thorough Oral Cancer Screening

  • Changes to oral tissue (red/white patch, texture)
  • Persistent mouth sore
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Lump in neck (especially if it doesn't bother you)
  • Mouth or ear pain

A Thorough Oral Cancer Screening consists of 6 steps

Step 1: Tongue ‘n Gauze: You will be asked extend your tongue as far as it can go, while the doctor or hygienist examines the sides and underside for white and red patches, and feels their tongue for lumps.

Step 2: Lip & Cheek Roll: We will feel for lumps or bumps, looking for white or red areas that should not be there.

Step 3: Double-Digit Probe:  An examination of the floor of your mouth from the top and bottom simultaneously by palpating the area and feeling for any lumps, and looking for white and red patches will be done.

Step 4: Palate Tickle: Next there will be an examination of the roof of your mouth looking for lumps, white or red patches and areas of softness on the hard palate.

Step 5: Neck Caress: Your dentist or dental hygienist will palpate your neck. It is important to have your neck checked for any enlarged lymph nodes which can be a possible sign of infection or something more serious.

Step 6: Tonsil Ahhhhhhh: For the last step of a thorough oral cancer screening you will be asked to stick your tongue out while the dentist depresses your tongue with a dental mirror. They will examine your tonsils for symmetry, enlargement, redness, or unusual bumps.

Have questions or need any help from our team? Reach out to us below and one of our team members will get in touch with you as soon as we see your request.