Oral Cancer Testing

Did You Know That Dentists Can Detect Signs of Throat Cancer?

Have you ever had a canker sore? A sore throat that doesn’t seem to go away? What about a tiny white bump that resembles a pimple on the tip of your tongue that you desperately try not to bite at?

Has the thought of them being signs of cancer ever crossed your mind?

This year alone, over 4,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cancer and over 1,000 will die from it. If oral cancer is detected at an early stage, the survival rate is 92%; however, if it is detected at a later stage, the survival rate plummets to 37%. It is alarming that the signs and symptoms of oral, throat and tongue cancer can often be mistaken for the common cold, strep throat or the frustrating bumps everyone gets on their tongue. Because of these misjudgements, detection may not occur until cancer is in a later stage. The result is a lowered probability of recovery, and potentially, death.

Dentists Can Detect Cancer

Dentists can differentiate the signs of mouth, throat and tongue cancer. They can provide an oral screening – an assessment of the mouth – and perform “visual and touch/feel” oral screens during regular routine visits. During a screening, our team is persistently mindful of any abnormalities and inspects other areas of the face that may be affected by these cancers (such as the nose). Our goal is to identify precancerous and cancerous cells at their earliest stages – when they are easier to remove and the probability of curing that particular cancer is higher. We will inform patients if we observe abnormalities and may recommend that we conduct more tests to confirm whether the cells are precancerous or malignant.

Early Detection Can Save Your Life

Dental technology has come a long way. In years past, the only way dentists had to detect oral cancer was by using line of sight, and the ‘touch and feel’ approach.

Our state of the art dental office is equipped with the VELscope Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System- a handheld detection device- that implements enhanced oral screening technology to detect dysplastic (cells that are changing that can become precancerous, or revert back to normal) and precancerous cells LONG before they become visible to the eye. The VELscope Vx’s blue wave light spectrum- which causes the intra-oral tissue to fluoresce- can also detect cells that have already become cancerous.

It assists our dental team in the diagnosis of several mouth ailments, allowing the patient to seek treatment sooner in the disease’s development. Early detection is essential , and can often times mean that you can begin your treatment process while the cells are still in their precancerous stage, greatly improving your odds of a full recovery.

We Value Disease Prevention

Our team of dentists and hygienists provide patients with million-dollar smiles, but we are also experienced in disease prevention. We aspire to educate our patients about the importance of dental hygiene, one mouth at a time. Poor dental hygiene has been proven to lead to a number of health complications, such as heart disease, diabetes, an increased risk of dementia, and various forms of cancer. It is our goal for patients of Ayr Dental to avoid these health risks through exceptional dental hygiene and healthy habits.

First and foremost, it is important to understand the main causes of oral cancer: smoking and chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV-16 is the strain that leads to both cervical and oral cancer.

Recognizing the symptoms

It is also beneficial for patients to have an understanding of what the signs and symptoms are for oral, throat and tongue cancer; this will assist patients in recognizing abnormal changes and conduct self-examinations between visits to the dentist. Because the risk of mouth cancer increases with age – teeth become loose and dentures are unable to fit properly – it may be difficult for patients to differentiate aging and signs of mouth cancer.

A potential sign of oral cancer can be any of the following:

  • persistent pain
  • sores that do not heal (for periods greater than 14 days)
  • difficulty swallowing
  • slurred speech
  • bleeding gums
  • lymph adenopathy along the neck (enlarged or swollen lymph nodes)
  • unilateral numbness

**Please contact your dental practitioner to schedule an immediate check-up should you show consistent signs of any of the afore mentioned symptoms! We can dispel concerns, or give you a proper course of action should your ailments prove to be of serious concern.

Signs of throat cancer at an early stage includes rough and grating vocal cords; throat cancer signs at a later stage includes lethargy and rapid weight loss. Unlike the signs of throat cancer that can be observedby dentists, its symptoms are what patients feel. This includes noticeably swollen lymph nodes, an incessant sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. This looks awfully similar to a severe cold or strep throat, doesn’t it?

Signs of tongue cancer can easily be confused with common bumps that appear on the tongue: Transient Lingual Papillitis, which occur when papillae become irritated or swollen and turn red or white on the tip of the tongue. One sign of tongue cancer includes a sore on the tongue; what is important to note is that although the common (and irritating) bumps typically heal in two weeks, the sores associated with tongue cancer do not go away. Occasionally, cancerous tongue sores that do not heal are misinterpreted as canker sores. Symptoms of tongue cancer are comparable to those of throat cancer: an unshakable sore throat and discomfort when swallowing. Like the signs and symptoms of throat cancer, the symptoms of tongue cancer can also easily be misjudged as an awful cold or strep throat.

Our Proactive Approach to Treatment

Whether we believe your health is already in jeopardy or are proactively avoiding the formation of cancerous cells, we will recommend one or multiple treatment methods. Oral and tongue cancer treatment that we offer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. If throat cancer is detected, we will direct you to the appropriate professionals to assist you with treatment. Dentists typically recommend patients undergo a nutrition regimen or participate in hospice or palliative care. Regular visits to the dentist will reassure you of your quality of health and help you attain superior dental hygiene; as a result, you will proactively steer clear of avoidable health complications.

Superior Health Begins with a Superior Mouth


Our team of dentists are experienced in identifying oral cancer causes, oral screenings, detection and treatment. Our goal is to detect abnormalities before they become life-threatening. Our team ensures early detection and diagnosis of cancer, which is critical to survival rates. In addition, the signs of mouth, throat and tongue cancer can be easily overlooked and confused with common infections. We value education, the health of our patients and believe we can never know too much; we continue to further our knowledge about developments in the field of cancers associated with dental hygiene.

Our priority is for you to have a wonderful smile, but it is also for you to live a long and healthy life – and it all begins with a healthy mouth.

For more information, please call Ayr Dental or Contact Us at (519) 632-8150