When Do You Need Oral Cancer Screenings?

When Do You Need Oral Cancer Screenings?

January 1, 2022

Regular dental checkups help more than the dental structure. They also offer a chance for an oral cancer screening in Burlington, ON. The uncontrollable growth of cells that damage the surrounding tissues is known as cancer. Oral cancer in our mouths presents itself as sores or growths that don’t go away. If not diagnosed or treated early, oral cancer can be life-threatening.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • The appearance of velvety red sparkled or white patches in your mouth
  • Unexplainable bleeding, numbness, tenderness, or pain in your face, mouth, ear, or neck area
  • Swellings, bumps or lumps, crusts or eroded areas on your lips, or gums
  • Persistent sores that easily bleed and do not heal within two weeks on your neck, face, or mouth
  • Difficulties when moving your jaw, or tongue especially when chewing, swallowing, or talking
  • Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, or a change in your voice

Diagnosing Oral Cancer

75% of most head and neck cancers begin from the mouth. 14% of oral cancers are found at the floor of the mouth, 17% on the lip, and 30% develop in the tongue. Having oral cancer screenings during your dental visit will help you detect it early. Oral cancer screening in Burlington, ON, involves a visual and a physical examination. The following are some areas that are examined.

  • Face

The dentist will look for swelling, discoloration, masses, or ulceration on your face. An external light source is used to evaluate raised, pigmented, firm, or ulcerated areas on the skin. Soft tissues and facial bones are also palpated to check masses and asymmetry.

  • Mouth Floor

Your mouth floor is the horseshoe-shaped area that starts from the ridge of the mandible to the ventral part of the tongue. It is evaluated when the tongue is lifted. The area is then dried using gauze before looking for any abnormalities. With a gloved hand, the doctor then looks for any firm or fixated mass on the floor.

  • Tonsils

During this examination, you open your mouth and slowly breathe in and out. This allows a proper view of the oropharynx. In addition, both the anterior and posterior tonsillar pillars are examined for any redness, asymmetry, or ulcerations.

  • Tongue

You will be requested to open your mouth wide and relax your tongue. Swellings and abnormalities are then noted. Your tongue movement should then be done without asymmetry or spasm. There is nerve paralysis when the tongue tends to deviate to the lesion side.

  • Lips

They are examined while the mouth is open and closed. The dentist will look out for any abnormalities in lip asymmetry, texture, colour, and contour of the lips. Vermilion of the lower lip border is paid extra attention. This is because it’s a prime spot for oral cancers.

Additional oral cancer tests can also be done. They include:

  • Rinsing your mouth using a special blue dye. The abnormal cells will then take up the dye and appear blue.
  • A shining light may also be used to distinguish the healthy tissues from the abnormal ones. As a result, the healthy tissues will appear dark while the abnormal ones white under the light.


After the oral cancer screening depending on the results, the dentist may:

  • Schedule a follow-up appointment. This is done after a few weeks to check whether the abnormalities are still present, changed, or disappeared.
  • Do a biopsy procedure, which includes extracting a few tissues for laboratory testing. It is done to determine whether the cancer cells are still in touch.

Prevention of Oral Cancer

You can take several measures to minimize the risks of cancer. Below is more information.

  • Eating a well-balanced diet that especially contains vitamin A
  • Having limited exposure to sunlight. Sunlight exposure increases the risk of oral cancer, especially on the lower lip. Use protective lotions on your lips and skin when you go out.
  • Avoid using marijuana or smoking using tobacco products.
  • Take a self oral cancer examination at least once a month. Using a bright light and a mirror, feel and look at your lips and gums. Look at the roof of your gums by tilting your head upwards. Next, pull your cheeks and look inside them. Look for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes at the side of your neck. Call our dentist at Walkers Line Dental Centre if you notice any abnormalities.

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