The Role of Dentists in Oral Cancer Screening: How They Can Help Detect and Prevent Cancer

The Role of Dentists in Oral Cancer Screening: How They Can Help Detect and Prevent Cancer

July 1, 2023

When we go for our regular dental checkups, we usually focus on having dental cleanings or getting gum infection or cavity treatment. However, our dentists also play an essential role in preventing and detecting oral cancer. Early oral cancer detection can save your life and increase your chances of responding to treatments.During your regular checkup, your dentist will examine and screen your mouth for any signs of cancer.

The Role of Dentists in Oral Cancer Screening

Usually, oral cancer will begin as an abnormalitythe dentist can detect in your mouth. The disease often appears with red or white precancerous lesions in your cheeks or gums. Oral cancer screening is a dental exam done during your routine oral checkup to look for any signs of cancer.

During the screening, our cancer dentist in New Port Richey will first do a physical exam which will involve a close examination of your tongue, cheeks, gums, the floor and roof of your mouth, the back of your throat and neck lymph nodes.Then, if your dentist detects abnormalities such as lesions, tumors or growth, they will do a brush or tissue biopsy.

A brush biopsy is an oral cancer test done by collecting cells from a targeted tumor by brushing them on a slide. Tissue biopsy will involve removing a piece of the tissue with the abnormality to be examined and tested for cancerous cells. Additionally, the dentist may perform the following tests during your oral cancer screening:

  • CT Scan. It is done to reveal tumors in your throat, lungs, mouth, neck or any part of your body
  • X-rays. They are used in generating cancer cells images that may have spread to the jaw, lungs or chest.
  • MRI Scan. These scans provide more accurate images of your neck and head and determine the cancer stage.
  • Endoscopy. It examines your nasal passages, inner throat, sinuses, trachea and windpipe.
  • PET Scan. This is a scan used by the dentist near youto determine if cancer cells have travelled into the lymph nodes.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors and Symptoms

Oral cancer symptoms may start appearing during the early stage. First, however, youmust be aware of common oral cancer symptoms. They include:

  • Unexplained bleeding mouth
  • Pain or numbness when biting down
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Mouth sores that aren’t healing
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Sore throat
  • Pain or jaw stiffness
  • Abnormal growth in your mouth

Make an appointment for an oral cancer screening near you if you have any of the following symptoms.

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

There isn’t any particular identified cause of oral cancer. However, dentists have identified risks that could increase your chances of having it. For example, if you come from a family with a history of oral cancer. Other risk factors include;

  • Gender. Men are twice at risk of getting oral cancer than women.
  • Age
  • A poor diet that contains fewer vegetables and fruits.
  • Alcohol Intake. Alcoholics are six times more likely to have oral cancer than non-alcoholics.
  • Excessive UV rayfacial exposure
  • Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • Weakened immune system

Prevention and Treatment of Oral Cancer


Several factors, such as cancer type, stage and location, determine oral cancer treatment after an oral cancer screening in New Port Richey. Treatment options include;

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Targeted Therapy

Preventive tips for oral cancer:

  • Avoid Tobacco. Quit taking any form of tobacco products, including cigars, cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. According to Dr. Srividya Vulugundam, tobacco is a significant cause of oral cancers; avoiding them will benefit your oral and overall health.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption. Excessive alcohol intake can irritate your mouth tissue and cells making them vulnerable to cancer. If you have to drink, do it in moderation.
  • Maintain a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that will protect your cells from cancer damage.
  • Protect Your Lips from UV Rays. People who have prolonged exposure to sunlight are most likely to get lip cancer. Take care of your lips by wearing a protective lip balm that contains SPF when outside and reapply it regularly. Additionally, limit your sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and wear a hat to shield your face.
  • Regular Dental Visits. Dentists are often the first to notice any potential cancer growth, especially if you keep up with your dental checkups. In addition to dental visits, practice proper oral hygiene by flossing at least once daily and brushing after every meal and before bed.

At Orange Grove Dental, we have a team of oral cancer experts ready to help you in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Visit our dental offices today for a consultation as the first step to safeguarding your oral and overall health.

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