How do Tennessee periodontists screen for oral cancer?

February 6th, 2013

Tennessee periodontists‘ first step in screening for oral cancer is a visual examination of the entire oral cavity; mouth, lips, gums, tonsil and tongue. Our Tennessee periodontists are experts in determining the overall health or the oral cavity, therefore are uniquely qualified for the job. During the visual examination, the doctor looks for abnormalities and lesions in the mouth. An abnormal white patch of cells (leukoplakia) or red patch of cells (erthroplakia) located on soft tissue can become cancerous. These are observed as small red or white spots within the mouth. They will also look and feel for small lumps and thickenings within the mouth.  Sores that tend to heal slowly will also be examined. The doctor will ask about any history of pain and numbness. You should also alert your examiner if you experience difficulty eating food (chewing and swallowing), or if it is painful to speak or move your tounge.

If lesions or abnormalities are discovered during the visual examination, several procedures may be used to determine if they have the potential to develop into oral cancer. In one method, a blue stain called Toluidine is used to coat lesions within the mouth. Tennessee periodontists can analyze the color to determine the likelihood of cancerous cells. Another technique called fluorescence staining involves a special mouth rinse and light to analyze abnormal tissue. Exfoliative cytology, more commonly called the “brush test” is a technique where a small brush or stick is used to scrape cells from the oral cavity. Cells are examined under a microscope to determine if they are abnormal. A biopsy removes a larger segment of cells from the area and is often performed after confirmation of atypical or positive results from one of the previous tests.


If you are considering a Tennessee oral cancer screening, contact one of our experienced periodontists for more information.