Best Advice on How to Check for Oral Cancer

A clinical checkup of the mouth is the main way to check for oral cancer. These are often done when people get regular checkups at the dentist. For early diagnosis and treatment, screenings should be done once a year. Coolbreeze Dentistry in Irving, TX will do a cancer screening with a comprehensive dental exam

Oral cancer check

The cells in your mouth are where oral cancer grows. Over 54,000 new cases of mouth cancer were found in patients in 2023, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

A lot of mouth cancers aren’t found until they’re already pretty bad. This is why early diagnosis and treatment are so important. Continue reading to find out more about how to check for mouth cancer.

How Important Is Detecting Oral Cancer Early?

Oral cancer has the best chance of being cured if it is found and handled quickly. The 5-year mortality rate for oral cancer that stays in the mouth is around 86%.

But about 70% of mouth cancers are found after they’ve already spread to other parts of the body. The chances of beating these cancers in 5 years are 69% and 40.4%, respectively. This is why finding mouth cancer early is so important.

What are the Best Ways to Check for Mouth Cancer?

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society both say that there is no standard test for mouth cancer.

A clinical checkup of the mouth is the main way that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force checks for oral cancer. A dentist may do this as part of regular checkups, but a doctor may also do it.

The ACS says that extra tests might be used to check for mouth cancer too, especially in people who are more likely to get it. In these tests, special lights or dyes are often used to look for places that don’t look right.

The American Dental Association, on the other hand, says that there isn’t enough evidence to back using these tests to look at sores in the mouth. A big reason for this is that they give a lot of false-positives, which can lead to diagnostic tests or biopsies that aren’t needed.


What Puts you at Risk for Mouth Cancer?

Some things that put you at risk for mouth cancer are:

– Using tobacco products, such as smoking, being around secondhand smoke for a long time, smokeless tobacco

– Consuming alcohol

– Having an HPV virus in your mouth 

– Age 

– Male 


Oral Self-Checks

It’s also important to check your mouth regularly because you know your body best and may notice changes that aren’t good first. It only takes a few minutes to do a self-exam, just like a professional oral test.

You will stand in front of a bathroom mirror and do a self-exam. You will look for sores or lumps on your lips, tongue, and mouth. You can then see a dentist or doctor to have them look at anything new or strange that you notice. Seek a medical professional to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Tips for Good Oral Health

You can keep your mouth healthy in more ways than one, besides self-exams. Some of these are:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth twice a day and floss between your teeth at least once a day. 
  • Cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Not smoking, or giving up smoking if you already do. 
  • Making sure to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

It is important to know the signs of mouth cancer so that it can be found early. Some of these are:

  • Red or white spots in your mouth
  • Sores or irritated spots that don’t go away in a few weeks
  • Lumps or masses in or around your mouth
  • Trouble chewing
  • Jaw swelling
  • Trouble moving your tongue or jaw
  • Numb spots in your mouth

Other signs that your mouth cancer may have spread to your throat and nearby tissues are:

  • If you have a sore throat that won’t go away
  • A  hoarse voice
  • Pain or trouble swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck (you may have a cold)


How Much Does a Check for Mouth Cancer Cost, and does Insurance Pay for it?

As part of a regular checkup, most dentists look for and feel for signs of mouth cancer. In this case, dental insurance will usually pay for it at no extra cost.

As part of the screening, your dentist may charge extra if they use special colors or lights. In light of this, you should ask your dentist what kind of mouth cancer screening they offer and if there are any extra fees or costs.

There isn’t a regular test for mouth cancer. However, a clinical oral exam is the best way to find out if you have oral cancer. During this exam, a dentist or doctor will look and feel around your mouth, lips, and face for any signs of the disease.

As part of their regular dentist checkup, most people get a test for oral cancer. Self-exams should also be done regularly at home to look for any new or strange changes that should be checked out by a doctor.

Are you interested in getting checked for oral cancer or to make a dental cleaning appointment, contact Coolbreeze Dentistry today at (972) 432-8811. We work closely with our clients to get them the smile of their dreams safely and effectively.