As with all cancers, early detection of oral cancer is key in getting the best treatment outcomes. In order to do that, you need to have oral cancer screenings completed on a regular basis – and our team at St. Anthony Park Dental Care is here to help. We can complete this screening at every teeth cleaning appointment or even more often if recommended by your doctor. All you have to do is call our team to schedule your visit to our St. Paul dental clinic, and then come by at the selected time and date.
What is Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening lets your dentist see if you have any signs of cancer in your mouth, on your face, and around your neck and jaw. While looking inside your mouth, they examine the oral tissues for lesions, bumps, and other abnormalities. Plus, they feel around the jaw and neck area for irregular areas, such as bumps or swollen tissues.
Upon noting any potentially abnormal tissues, your dentist may perform additional tests to see the area a bit better. If needed, they may also send out a small biopsy of the tissues to the lab, so they can check the integrity of the cells. Depending on the results, your dentist may then direct you through the next care steps, including visiting your primary care doctor.
What to Expect During the Screening Process
When you come into our St. Paul, MN, a dental clinic for an oral cancer screening, your dentist will first take time to learn about your personal and family health history to assess your risk factors. Then, they will perform the visual and physical examination steps to check for the most common signs of oral cancer.
Barring additional tests, you can expect this screening to last less than five minutes – or about how long it takes to floss and brush your teeth. Here’s what you can expect along the way.
During the visual examination, you’ll just need to relax in the dental chair and let your dentist take a look inside your mouth. They will use their light and mirror to get a good look at your cheeks, lips, tongue, and the back of your throat.
Throughout that process, they may have you move your tongue out of the way and push it down to clearly see your throat. You’ll then need to stick out your tongue and vocalize to open up your throat more for a better look.
Before moving onto the next part of the oral cancer screening, your dentist will examine your face, neck, lips, and nose to check for other signs of cancer. Whether all looks as it should or they find potential abnormalities, they’ll let you know their findings as they move through the process.
During the last part of the oral cancer screening, your dentist will gently feel the tissues on your face, jaw, and neck to check for masses. Although these nodules are often painless, you should definitely speak up if anything hurts as they feel around. If they note any hard lumps of tissue, they’ll let you know right away and instruct you on the next care steps.
Upon noticing any abnormal tissues, your dentist may need to perform additional tests for a better look at the area or to send samples to the lab. For a more in-depth oral assessment, they can use a mouth rinse or fluorescent light to illuminate the tissues and make them easier to see.
If you need an oral biopsy taken, your dentist will use a firm brush to scrape away cells without causing any pain. Then, they can send the brush to the lab, so they can check for the presence of cancer cells.
At the end of your oral cancer screening appointment, your dentist will go over all their findings and let you know how to proceed. If all looks normal, they will likely continue performing your screenings at each regular teeth cleaning visit. Otherwise, you may need to go see your doctor plus potentially have screenings performed more often to watch the tissues for changes.
Need an Oral Cancer Screening? Call for an Appointment Today
If you would like to schedule a visit for oral cancer screening or other dental services in St. Paul, MN, simply call 651-383-1863 to reach our team at St. Anthony Park Dental Care. We’re always here to help you find a great time to swing by and get the dental care you need through the years. Our team looks forward to overseeing the care of your teeth, gums, and other oral tissues, so please feel free to call whenever you need care.