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How Visiting Your Dentist Regularly Helps Spot Oral Cancer


Regular dental check-ups are not just about maintaining a healthy smile and clean teeth. They also play a crucial role in screening for oral cancer, a potentially life-threatening disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Oral cancer can be difficult to detect in its early stages, but with routine dental visits, your dentist can help identify any potential signs or symptoms, increasing the chances of early diagnosis and successful treatment. In this blog post, we will explore how visiting your dentist can help spot oral cancer and why it is essential for your overall health.


Understanding Oral Cancer

Oral cancer refers to any cancerous growth that develops in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and throat. According to the American Cancer Society, around 54,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, with approximately 10,850 deaths resulting from the disease. Oral cancer can develop in anyone, but certain risk factors increase the likelihood of its occurrence. These include tobacco and alcohol use, prolonged sun exposure, a family history of cancer, and certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).


The Role of Dentists in Oral Cancer Screening

Dentists play a critical role in oral cancer screening, as they are often the first healthcare professionals to detect any signs or symptoms. During a routine dental examination, your dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth, including your lips, tongue, gums, and throat. They will look for any irregularities, such as sores, lumps, or discoloured patches, that may indicate the presence of oral cancer.


Visual Examination

The first step in oral cancer screening is a visual examination. Your dentist will use a bright light and a mirror to examine the inside of your mouth, checking for any abnormalities. They will look for red or white patches, sores that do not heal, or any other unusual changes in the tissues.


Physical Examination

Following the visual examination, your dentist will perform a physical examination. This involves feeling the tissues in your mouth and neck for any lumps or abnormalities. They will gently palpate the lymph nodes to check for any swelling or tenderness, which can be an indication of oral cancer.


Additional Diagnostic Tools

In some cases, dentists may use additional diagnostic tools to aid in oral cancer screening. One such tool is the VELscope, a handheld device that uses blue light to detect abnormal tissues in the mouth. The VELscope can help dentists identify potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions that may not be visible to the naked eye.


Benefits of Early Detection

Early detection of oral cancer is crucial for successful treatment and improved patient outcomes. When oral cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, the chances of a complete cure are significantly higher. Regular dental visits allow dentists to monitor any changes in your oral tissues over time, making it easier to identify any potential signs or symptoms of oral cancer.


What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening

During your dental visit, your dentist will perform a comprehensive oral cancer screening as part of their routine examination. They will examine your mouth, throat, and neck for any abnormalities and ask you about any symptoms you may be experiencing. If any suspicious areas are identified, your dentist may recommend further tests, such as a biopsy, to confirm the diagnosis.


Maintaining Good Oral Health

In addition to oral cancer screening, regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health. Your dentist will clean your teeth, remove plaque and tartar buildup, and provide guidance on proper oral hygiene practices. By visiting your dentist regularly, you can prevent dental issues such as cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss, ensuring a healthy and beautiful smile.



Visiting your dentist regularly is not just about having a clean and healthy mouth. It is also an opportunity to undergo an oral cancer screening that can potentially save your life. Regular dental check-ups allow dentists to detect any signs or symptoms of oral cancer in its early stages, increasing the chances of successful treatment and recovery. So, make sure to prioritise your dental health and schedule those routine dental visits. Your overall health depends on it!