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Oral Cancer Screening

Regular oral cancer screenings are crucial for early detection and part of our commitment to keeping our patients healthy and well.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening? 

An oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for precancerous or cancerous conditions in the mouth. This quick and painless process is essential to your dental visits at Thrive Dental & Orthodontics.  

 Oral cancer typically originates in mouth and lip tissue but can also occur in the gums, tongue, tonsils, throat, cheeks, and salivary glands. During a screening for oral cancer, your dentist looks and feels for patches, sores, and lesions in and around the face, neck, mouth, and glands.  

Why Screenings Are Important 

Nearly 58,500 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year in the U.S. Oral cancer is part of a group of head and neck cancers that can be challenging to treat because late-stage diagnosis is common. Left undetected, oral cancer can metastasize to other locations in the body, making it more challenging to treat.  

Regular oral cancer screenings are a valuable preventive tool for detecting and treating many head and neck cancers.  

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “Oral cancer is hazardous because, in its early stages, it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can …prosper without producing pain or symptoms.”  

Thrive Dental family dentists are trained and experienced in identifying the earliest signs of oral cancer so patients can pursue early treatment.  

Common Signs of Oral Cancer  

So, when we perform an exam, what are we looking for?  

While not all abnormalities mean cancer, possible signs of oral cancer include:  

  • Tongue pain 
  • Loose teeth 
  • Persistent sore throats  
  • Mouth or jaw pain or swelling  
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing 
  • Mouth sores or lumps that don’t heal quickly 
  • Lumps or thickening of the skin lining the mouth  


Although Thrive Dental providers are trained to recognize these abnormalities, you don’t have to be a dentist to detect early signs of oral cancer. Once you know these symptoms, you can be more aware of your oral hygiene and share your concerns with your Thrive Dental & Orthodontics providers.  

Do All Dentists Offer Oral Cancer Screenings?  

No. While most dentists provide oral cancer screenings as part of their routine dental services, some do not for various reasons. Some dentists don’t have the skills or training to do a proper exam. In some cases, dentists do not take the extra time to screen for precancerous and cancerous tissue.  

Dentists at Thrive Dental feel otherwise. Our dentists carefully examine your mouth for any signs of cancer or cancerous tissue as needed. This short but thorough screening helps determine if you need a biopsy for further investigation. Oral cancer screenings are vital in maintaining oral and overall health. 

How Often Should Oral Cancer Screenings Be Done?  

Generally, adults over 20 should screened for oral cancer at least every three years. Patients over 40 should be screened annually. However, if you have previously been treated for oral cancer or are in a high-risk group, we may recommend more frequent oral screenings for mouth cancer. 

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer  

Knowing the risk factors for oral cancer and lifestyle changes to lower your risk can also help prevent disease. Thrive Dental providers discuss your overall health and lifestyle to determine when to screen for oral cancer.  

Risk factors for oral cancer include:   

  • Alcohol and tobacco use 
  • Increased exposure to UV rays 
  • A diet low in fruit and vegetables 

People previously diagnosed with oral cancer also have a higher risk of recurrence and should be screened more frequently for precancerous changes.  

Choose Thrive Dental for Your Oral Cancer Screening  

Oral cancer is largely preventable with early detection and treatment. One of our highly-trained dentists will examine the entirety of your mouth for any warning symptoms of cancer. This standard part of your routine dental examination has the potential to prevent life-threatening oral cancer.  

Preventative dentistry at Thrive Dental & Orthodontics helps patients avoid decay, disease, and other common issues impacting their oral health. Routine check-ups, cleanings, sealings, and other preventive services help patients maintain a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.  

If you haven’t been in for a dental checkup recently, contact our office today to receive expert care and an oral cancer screening. 

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