Oral Cancer Screening: What to Expect from a Dentist?

Oral Cancer Screening: What to Expect from a Dentist?

February 1, 2023

Oral cancer screenings help dentists to check for signs of this devastating disease in your mouth. Your dentist in East York, ON reviews the lining of your gums, cheeks, tongue, floor and mouth roof decking for signs of lesions and abnormalities. If they detect anything suspicious, they refer you to an oncologist for additional testing.

Oral Cancer Screening Explained

Oral cancer screenings are exams checking for signs of cancer in the mouth. Oral cancer includes mouth, jaw, and tongue cancer. The areas examined by your dentist during mouth cancer screening include the cheek lining, floor and mouth roof, gums, lips, tongue, and tonsils.

You don’t have to schedule separate appointments with the dentist for oral cancer screening in East York, Toronto, ON. This is because the dentist performs the screening in under five minutes during your regular visit with them for routine exams.

What to Expect During Oral Cancer Screening?

When screening for oral cancer, expect the dentist to look at areas of your mouth and head unrelated to your teeth and gums. The dentist may combine different oral cancer screening methods and screening dyes besides lights or take pictures of abnormal areas of your mouth for monitoring. Generally, the dentist completes the exam quickly before you realize it. The steps included during the exam for oral cancer detection include the following:

Visual Exam

The dentist looks for signs of lesions in your mouth and throat during the visual exam. The abnormalities they try to detect are leukoplakia or thick white patches and abnormally red areas called erythroplakia.


The dentist will also use fingers to feel for lumps and bumps around your face, neck, and jaw. If you have sore or tender areas in the spots, the dentist checks, ensure that you inform them about them.

Oral Cancer Screening Dye

Many dentists use oral cancer screening tools like toluidine blue dye when checking for signs of mouth cancer. They coat any lesions with the blue dye to help identify spots that will likely become cancerous.

Oral Cancer Screening Light

Unique lights are also designed to help identify abnormal mouth tissues. When using this tool, the dentist requests you rinse your mouth with fluorescent mouthwash before shining the light in your mouth. The light makes healthy tissue appear dark and abnormal tissue white.

What after Receiving an Oral Cancer Screening Test?

As mentioned earlier, the screenings by the dentist are merely to look for signs of oral cancer. However, you will need additional testing to receive an official diagnosis of this condition.

After screening your mouth for oral cancer, the dentist shares their findings with you. If the screening indicates the presence of oral cancer, you will receive a referral to a specialist for further testing. The tests you may have to undergo from the specialists include:

Cytology: the specialist collects cells from your mouth using a brush or piece of cotton for a pathologist to examine the cells microscopically to determine whether they are abnormal.

Biopsy: the specialist removes a part of the abnormal tissue during a biopsy to forward it to a pathologist for analysis.

The dentist might recommend a follow-up visit in a week to determine whether the lesion has changed or healed by itself.

When Can You Expect the Results?

You can expect the screening test results immediately after the dentist completes the exam. However, if you need additional testing like cytology or biopsy, you must wait for three to five days before a response.

Can You Perform Oral Cancer Screenings at Home?

Some dentists recommend screening yourself at home for oral cancer every month. However, at-home screening is not a substitute for six monthly screenings by the dentist. If you intend to screen yourself for oral cancer, you must gather information from the provider on how to perform the examination.

Looking for signs of oral cancer in your mouth by running fingers along your jawline and neck sides is challenging because you also need to look for signs of discoloration and feel lumps and bumps inside your mouth. The examination is better performed by a dentist with thorough knowledge about your oral cavity and the expertise to check for abnormal areas that might aggravate oral cancer. Therefore the optimal method to determine whether you have oral cancer is to schedule six monthly appointments with your dentist in East York, ON when you get the screening free of charge during your routine exam.

Danforth Village Dental Care performs oral cancer screenings on all patients visiting them for routine exams. Consulting this practice for dental care also helps you get these screenings during six monthly visits. Therefore kindly schedule your appointment with them for your next exam to learn whether you have oral cancer.

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