Oral Cancer Screening

Do I need an oral cancer screening?

We’ll do a basic oral cancer screening as part of your twice a year recare appointments because sometimes cancer presents with no symptoms or even pain. Only a trained eye can identify warning signs, and early detection is critical.

Your hygienist will ask you about issues or symptoms that have occurred since your last visit. They and your dentist will also pay very close attention to areas of the mouth that are more susceptible to cancer than others, including:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Insides of cheeks
  • Roof of the mouth
  • Back of the throat

What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

Not all of the following signs and symptoms mean you have oral cancer, but you should have a medical professional check the area if you notice:

  • Sore on lip or mouth that won’t heal
  • Mass or growth anywhere in mouth
  • Bleeding from mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Lump in the neck
  • Earache that won’t go away
  • Lower lip, face, neck, or chin numbness
  • White, red and white, or red patches in mouth or on lips
  • Sore throat
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Tongue pain

Who is likely to get oral cancer?

Lifestyle choices and other factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Using tobacco - smoking, chewing dip or using snuff
  • Regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Having oral cancer in the past
  • Too much sun exposure, which can cause cancer on the lips
  • Oral exposure to the HPV virus
  • Being male - men are twice as likely to get oral cancer as women are

We will check all areas of your mouth, gums and tongue/tissue for abnormalities. We’ll also feel under your tongue, chin and jaw to detect any lumps. 

Our goal is to detect any possible signs of oral cancer early. If we see something suspicious, we will refer you to a specialist who can do further testing. 


More than 49,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, occurring most often in people over 40 years old. Oral cancers are most often discovered after they’ve spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. Early detection is key to surviving oral cancer.

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