Oral Cancer Screening

When you visit us for routine dental cleanings you may have realized that the dentist feels areas of the mouth like the cheeks or inside the mouth. The dentist is often looking for any signs of oral cancer. Our dental team at Zenith Smiles will check for oral cancer every time you come in for a routine checkup or exam. We advise you to also ask us to screen you whenever you visit our office. Many people fail to get screened not knowing the risk they are putting themselves into. Early detection can make a big difference. With more than 11,000 people dying of the disease each year in the U.S. and more than 53,000 being diagnosed annually, according to the American Cancer Society, it makes sense to pay attention to oral cancer checks.


Oral cancer is not a frequently talked-about disease. There are few campaigns for this disease if any. But it continues to claim many lives. Many people never get medical help early enough until cancer has progressed to critical stages. And as with all kinds of cancer, getting early detection as well as treatment is essential to increase the chances of surviving. The sooner you visit us to be screened, the earlier you know your risk and whether you have it or not. This way, you can begin treatment early, and learn how to prevent it in the first place. Early screening for oral cancer helps find the disease before you get symptoms. At this time, it is easier to treat. It also means that you spend less money on treatment and the recovery time is also less.


Screening for oral cancer is a vital component of each dental exam. The screenings are thorough and usually begin prior to your physical exam. Our dental hygienist initially updates your medical history, noting any changes you may have since the last visit to our office. The hygienist checks if there are any new conditions or diseases that have been diagnosed and if you are taking any new medicines. When checking your medical history, we also ask questions to find out if you have risk factors for mouth cancer such as excess consumption of alcohol and smoking.

Our team also checks about your current health and dental concerns. The cancer screening looks at areas inside and outside the mouth. An extra-oral exam involves the head and neck while an intra-oral exam checks the cheeks, palate, lips, tongue, mouth floor, as well as gum tissues. Our dentist will look for irregular tissue changes, lumps, sores, discoloration, and lesions. Anything doubtful should prompt a biopsy for further testing.


The procedure takes four basic steps. The first one is cavity filling removal, which is optional. This step is necessary if you have fractured or damaged your cavity fillings. Our dentist will remove any filling before placement. We will also remove any tissue that has decay or cavities. This will leave you with a hollow cavity. Then, we will shape your tooth in preparation for placement.

The second step involves creating an impression on the tooth. The impression dictates the material to use when constructing the inlay or onlay. Then, we use a temporary filling to seal the hollow cavity. Temporary filling prevents the tooth from decaying. It also reduces the risk of sensitivity, which may cause discomfort and pain. Once the inlay or only is complete, you will come in for the final placement. During placement, we will use a local anesthetic to reduce pain. After administering the anesthetic, we will remove the temporary filling, leaving a hollow cavity again. Finally, we cement the onlay or inlay into your tooth.


Recovery time after the procedure is very short. However, your teeth are still at risk of bacterial infection and plaque buildup after recovery. Practicing good oral hygiene will help sustain the restorations in the long run. We recommend observing basic oral hygiene practices like brushing twice a day and using mouthwash regularly. You also need to floss daily to clean between your teeth. Our dentists will also advise on dietary restrictions after restoration. For instance, we advise against sugar intake or consuming acidic foods and drinks. You will also need to come in for a routine checkup every six months. Routine checkups allow us to catch potential signs of leakage of the inlay or onlay, damage, or disease.

To discuss this and other restoration options for your teeth, visit us at Zenith Smiles. You can also talk to us by calling (714) 838-0790.

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