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Checking for signs of oral cancer is part of a regular dental checkup. Your dentist can examine your oral tissues easily by looking at your lips and inside your mouth. He or she will check your gums carefully, the inside of your cheeks and your tongue (the sides and underneath). Also, the dentist will look at the roof and floor of your mouth.
Besides the normal visual and manual exam, certain technologies may help draw attention to areas that might have been missed.
Velscope is one example (and there are now plenty of others).
When our patients come in for an exam, we perform an oral cancer check as well. We check the tongue -- top, bottom, and lateral borders. We look at the palate hard and soft for any unusual lesions. Major salivary glands are palpated to make sure they don't have any masses in them. We will also check the lymph nodes under the angle of the jaw and down the neck bilaterally. Also, the entire inside of the cheeks and gum tissue should be examined. I feel that this screening is one of the most important exams I perform on a daily basis!
Oral Cancer is on the rise and if caught early, is treatable. Often oral cancer is asymptomatic and if noticed later in the progression, is often fatal -- Make sure you see your dentist 2x a year, so that this important examination can be performed.
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