Patient Guidelines During COVID-19

Oral Cancer Exam


Cosmetic Dentists, Implant Dentists, Pedodontists & General Dentists in the Central Coast and Bakersfield, California

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 53,000 Americans each year suffer from oral cancer, and nearly 10,000 of these cases result in death. The team at CaliDental, located in Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, and Lompoc, California, commits to helping lower your risk for oral cancer by providing quality screenings and helping you lower your risk factors. For an oral cancer exam, call or schedule an appointment online today.

Oral Cancer Exam Q & A

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a condition where abnormal cells inside the mouth, face, and throat grow, reproduce, and spread. Oral cancer usually begins as a sore or growth on the surface of the:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Cheeks
  • Floor of the mouth, under the tongue
  • Hard and soft palate
  • Sinuses
  • Throat

Those at the highest risk for oral cancer include men and women who smoke, use chewing tobacco, and drink alcohol.

What is an oral cancer exam?

At CaliDental, all regular dental examinations include an oral cancer examination and screening. Especially if you are at high risk for oral cancer, you should have a comprehensive oral cancer exam at least once a year.

Your dentist and dental hygienist are knowledgeable and experienced at identifying oral cancer in its earliest stages. They assess for any noticeable abnormalities in the tongue, gums, and mouth as they care for your teeth and gums, including:

Discoloration and slow-healing sores

The examiner looks for white, red, or pink patches inside the mouth and on the tongue that bleed easily and or are not healing properly.


The examiner looks for hardened white or gray, slightly raised lesions that could appear anywhere inside the mouth. Leukoplakia could be cancerous or noncancerous. 


The examiner looks for abnormal tenderness and thickening of the tissues inside the mouth, neck, and throat.

If they note any concerning signs, they discuss these with you and make a treatment plan, including biopsy, cancer, radiation, or chemotherapy.

What are other signs of oral cancer?

While your dental team strives to screen thoroughly for oral cancer, signs of oral cancer may be difficult to detect in its earliest stages. Between regular dental visits, make sure to request an oral cancer exam if you have:

  • White or red sores around mouth or lips
  • Sores that do not heal within 14 days
  • Prolonged hoarseness or sore throat
  • Lumps or growths inside your mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing¬†
  • Difficulty moving tongue or jaw
  • Numbness inside mouth
  • Ear pain on one side

Early detection is your best tool for preventing the spread and long-term impacts of oral cancer. If you are at high risk or have any signs of oral cancer, it is essential that you have regular oral cancer screenings. Your dental team at CaliDental can help. 

To schedule your oral cancer exam, call or book an appointment online with CaliDental today.