Oral Cancer Screening

During your oral examination, the dentist will look over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, they will also feel the tissues inside your mouth to check for lumps or abnormalities.

Many people have abnormal sores in their mouths, with the great majority being noncancerous. An oral exam cannot determine which sores are cancerous and which are not, but if your dentist does find an abnormal sore, you may be referred for further testing to diagnose the cause.

Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:

> Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others

> Heavy alcohol use

> Previous oral cancer diagnosis

Ask your dentist about ways to reduce your risk of oral cancer, such as quitting smoking, or not drinking alcohol.