Oral Cancer Screening

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During each routine dental visit, your trusted dentists, Dr. Kenneth Schweizer and Dr. Jillian Porto, always perform an oral cancer screening. You can also come by for an oral cancer screening in between appointments if recommended by your doctor. Or you may decide to have this oral cancer screening performed if you spot any abnormalities while flossing, brushing your teeth, or simply looking in the mirror.

Whatever the case, this quick check allows your dentists to spot precancerous lesions and other signs of mouth cancer. You can then use that information to get an early diagnosis and prompt treatment, improving your chance of making a full recovery. 


Although oral cancer can develop without an obvious cause, there are certain factors that increase your risk, such as:

  • Prior or current use of tobacco
  • Regular alcohol consumption
  • Spending a lot of time in the sunshine
  • History of human papillomavirus (HPV)

Beyond those factors, if you had oral cancer in the past, or have a strong family history of mouth cancer, you have a higher risk than most people. With a higher risk, you might need to get oral cancer screenings more often than normal. Your dentist will let you know how often to come in for this examination. 


During your daily oral health care routines, it’s wise to visually examine your teeth, gums, and the rest of your mouth. By doing so, you can potentially spot abnormalities that let you know something is wrong.

The most common signs of oral cancer you might notice include:

  • Sores on your lips or mouth that refuse to heal
  • Persistent red or white patches on your oral tissues
  • Lumps or other growths in or around your mouth

Recurrent pain in your mouth, throat, or ears is another sign of oral cancer, as is having a hard time swallowing food, drinks, or even your saliva.

Whenever you discover something that looks or feels abnormal, it’s important to schedule a visit to your dentist. With a quick examination of your oral tissues, they can help you figure out the next care steps. 

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An oral cancer screening only takes about five minutes from start to finish. You will need to remove your retainer, dentures, or other dental appliances to let your dentist examine all your oral tissues. During the screening, your dentist will perform a basic visual and physical examination, and then possibly use helpful screening tools to get a better look.

Basic Examination

The visual examination starts the oral cancer screening process. During this visual check, your dentist will look at your face, neck, and jaw before examining inside of your mouth and nose.

While looking inside your oral cavity, they will likely need to use a tongue depressor, mirror, and light to examine every area in full. You will then need to stick out your tongue and say “Ahh” to open up your throat and finish the visual exam.

After looking over all your oral tissues, your dentist will feel around the outside of your face, neck, and mouth to check for hard lumps. Most types of oral cancer do not cause painful lesions, but definitely speak up if you experience any pain during the palpations.

Screening Devices

If your dentist discovers any abnormal areas, they may need to use special screening devices to help figure out what’s going on. When there’s white or red patches, for example, they may use an oral biopsy brush to remove cells for testing at the lab. They may also need to use a fluorescent light or have you swish a mouth rinse around, both of which help abnormal tissues stand out during the visual exam.

If your dentist orders any lab tests, they will let you know about the results as soon as they come in. They can then provide their diagnosis and let you know how to proceed in getting the right level of care.

Throughout your oral cancer screening, your dentist will keep you well informed on what to expect every step of the way. If you have any questions or concerns along the way, please let us know. 



If you would like to schedule your oral cancer screening simply call (941) 926-4888 to reach our team. We will help you find a convenient time to come into our clinic and get the dental care you need. In addition to screening for mouth cancer and other issues, we can handle your routine care, general dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry needs. So, please feel free to let us know how we can help by giving us a call today.