A: Regular dental checkups are a great start at preventing oral cancer. Many patients think their dental checkup only serves the purpose of cleaning the teeth and checking for cavities. In fact, during a routine dental checkup, your dentist and dental hygienist are looking for signs of oral cancer in your mouth.

Oral cancer is often detected on the sides or underneath the tongue, or on the soft palate, although it can develop on soft tissue throughout the mouth. You can assist them in detecting and preventing oral cancer by alerting your dentist to abnormal growths, ulcerated areas that won’t heal, painful or numb areas, or any unusual color variations in the tissue of your mouth.