What is a head and neck exam?
With increasing awareness of cancers, it should come as no surprise that dentists are also implementing screenings for head/neck and intraoral cancer screenings into our daily practices. But what does a screening entail?
First, the dentist palpates the lymph nodes and glands, which are located under the chin, along the jaw and around the joint, along the base of the skull and down the muscles of the neck to the clavicle. We examine the glands for abnormal density/sensitivity, check the thyroid region, and have people swallow to ensure proper movement. We also evaluate the skin. To finish up, we evaluate the lips, cheeks, tongue, and all the tissues in the oral cavity into the back of the throat, both visually and palpating when appropriate. Early detection is vital!
In that past few years, there has been research linking a number of oral cancers with certain strains for HPV. As adults, we have likely been exposed to many of these strains and vaccination is not recommended. However, if you have children between the ages of nine and twelve, it is important to talk to their pediatrician about getting the HPV vaccination. The vaccine is targeted at the few HPV strains that have been linked with developing cancers later in life.
Now you know why we as dentists are doing more than just looking at your teeth! Have a great day and happy spring. I think it is on it's way!
Gates Family Dentistry
29990 Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070