An oral cancer screening is the easiest thing you can do as a dental hygienist that can save a life! If caught early enough oral cancer can be quickly biopsied and treated with hopefully little loss of tissue and surrounding structures.
It can take 5 minutes of your time to do a quick check on every patient. The importance is also to educate patients how they can do it themselves at home, and to let us know if they notice any unusual changes in color, texture or size of a possible lesion.
You can see a great diagram here: it will show you how to check all areas under the tongue, floor of the mouth, inside the cheeks, palate and other areas. The head and neck areas are what the dental professional knows and is familiar with.
In school you were trained to do this on every patient and if you didn't do it well you would fail that section of your clinical. Quickly it becomes forgotten once you start working in an office and only have 45 minutes (or less) to see a patient and do a cleaning. Sure, in some cases you may be behind for your next patient BUT if you missed an early lesion that resulted in an extreme form of oral cancer you would feel much worse!
A good 5 minutes can and will safe a patients life, remember to perform an oral cancer screening on every patient and educate them on how to do it themselves!
My name is Andrea Twarowski, owner and operator of Dentalelle Tutoring.