When it comes to the prevention and treatment of oral cancer, preventative care is extremely important. Meaning, not only are you receiving a teeth cleaning on those regular visits, but you are also being screened for any signs of oral cancer.  These screenings are part of every preventative care visit, such as your 6-month teeth cleaning. On these visits, your dental professional will perform a visual scan of the mouth and throat for any abnormalities as well as an exterior scan. The dentist or hygienist will also visually examine the face and neck for discoloration, as well as examining for lumps or bumps.


So, what do you do between these visits? On a monthly basis, everyone should screen their mouth, head, and neck area at home for any pre-cancerous symptoms.

Here are a few easy steps to screen for oral cancer at home:

  1. Using a flashlight, visually inspect the inside of the mouth and throat by suppressing the tongue and saying “ahhh” to inspect the back of the throat
  2. Pull cheeks and lips to the side or up to fully inspect these areas
  3. Using a piece of gauze pull the tongue up and/or to the side to fully inspect the tongue and the areas around/underneath it
  4. Touch, feel the inside of your cheeks, lips, palate, tongue and the floor of your mouth for any bumps or abnormalities
  5. Inspect the exterior of the lips, cheeks, and neck for any abnormal coloration
  6. Caress the neck for any lumps or bumps

If you do discover something that is abnormal during your at home examination be sure to contact your dentist and schedule an appointment to come in as soon as possible. Remember, early detection is the key to the success of treatment and management of all cancers.