Now that we understand the importance of oral cancer screening, let’s dive into the different methods available to detect it. The screening process typically involves a visual examination of the mouth, throat, and neck, as well as palpation (feeling) of the oral tissues to detect any abnormal lumps, bumps, or sores. At Veranda Family Dentistry, we use a combination of methods to screen for oral cancer.
- Visual Examination: During a routine dental check-up, your dentist will conduct a visual examination of your mouth, throat, and neck to check for any signs of oral cancer. They will look for red or white patches, sores, or ulcers that do not heal within two weeks, and abnormal growths or lumps on the gums, lips, tongue, or other areas in the mouth.
- Fluorescence Imaging: This is a non-invasive technology that uses a special light to illuminate the oral tissues and detect any abnormal changes. Fluorescence imaging can detect oral cancer in its early stages, even before it becomes visible to the naked eye.
- Oral screening dye: Oral screening dye is another method used in oral cancer screening. This procedure involves the use of a special dye that is applied to the mouth. The dye helps to identify abnormal cells and precancerous lesions that may not be visible to the naked eye.
- Biopsy: If your dentist suspects the presence of oral cancer or precancerous lesions, they may recommend a biopsy. This involves the removal of a small tissue sample from the affected area for examination under a microscope. A biopsy can confirm the presence of cancer and determine the best course of treatment.
- Brush Biopsy: A brush biopsy is a painless and non-invasive method used to collect a small sample of cells from the affected area in the mouth. The sample is then examined under a microscope to detect any abnormal changes in the cells. This method is particularly useful for detecting pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth.