What to expect from a mouth cancer check

Blog Article | By Simplyhealth 27 October  2021

A check-up at the dentist

The most important way of detecting mouth cancer early, is by regularly visiting your dentist. As part of any routine check-up dentists will always do some simple checks that can alert them to the very early signs of the disease.

Firstly, your dentist will do a check with their hands around your face, head and neck and jaw, looking for lumps and bumps that shouldn’t be there.

They will also check the bottom of the neck, towards your collar bone and feel your lymph glands, because swollen lymph glands (or nodes) can be an early sign of infection.

Then your dentists will look, and feel inside your mouth, around your gums, the inside of your cheeks and under your tongue (you might even have to stick your tongue out).

This mixture of physical and visual checks is the very best way of spotting something that doesn’t look quite right.

Nine times out of ten everything will be fine, and even if your dentist does find something it might be a simple issue like a blocked salivary duct, so the important thing is not to worry.

Your dentist should always take time to explain what they’re doing, and why, but don’t be afraid to ask questions about your examination and what they’re seeing. And do ask for advice on how to check your own mouth.

This video from the Oral Health Foundation gives you some more information about what to expect from a mouth cancer check:


Doing a self-check at home

There are also some simple and quick checks you can do yourself, at home. In fact, it’s a good idea, in between visits to the dentist, to regularly do a self-check – once a month is ideal and can take less than one minute.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that the Oral Health Foundation have put together to show how to perform a self-check for oral cancers: 


Be Mouthaware

Mouth cancer can affect anyone, and the most important thing is knowing what to look out for. So, don’t forget, if you notice something that’s out of the ordinary it’s important to tell your dentist or GP quickly.

Man checking throat for cancer

Find out more about how to check for changes in the mouth and signs and symptoms.

For more information on mouth cancer and other oral health matters visit the Oral Health Foundation’s website.

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