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What Is a Head and Neck Exam in Dentistry?



When you head into your regular dental appointments, you expect your dentist to inspect your teeth, jaw, gums, and tongue. But you might be surprised when your dental professional also performs a head and neck examination during your appointment. Rest assured, this is a common and essential part of regular dental visits. Here's how to prepare yourself for your head and neck exam so you'll be ready for your next appointment.

A head and neck exam is probably so quick and painless that you have not noticed it at past examinations during your dental visit. However, the exam is essential for your long-term health and peace of mind. The purpose of a head and neck examination is to screen for oral cancer. Your dentist will check your head, jaw, and neck for any abnormalities, including color changes, lumps, and legions.

Nearly 4% of cancers in the United States occur in the larynx, throat, mouth, nose, and sinuses. Unfortunately, these oral cancers are challenging to detect at home. Additionally, oral cancer usually occurs in patients over the age of 45. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance of survival, so head and neck exams should be conducted every six months.

Your dentist will perform your head and neck examination while you are seated upright:

  1. Your dentist will examine your nose, lips, thyroid, and neck. They will gently touch the area under your jar and along the sides of your neck, looking for any abnormalities.

  2. The dentist will look inside your mouth, analyzing your oral tissues such as your tongue, tonsils, and the back of your throat.

  3. You will stick out your tongue to allow the dentist to look for signs of swelling and color or texture changes.

If necessary, they may inspect the floor and roof of your mouth or press the insides of your lips or cheeks, looking for lumps or sensitivity.

The exam is a quick and painless part of your regular appointment. Relax and allow your dental professional to perform your head and neck examination, knowing that it is an essential piece of your oral health and offers you great peace of mind.

If it is time for you to have a regular check-up, reach out to Value Dental Care. Our trained staff is always ready to help you take care of all of your oral care needs. We offer high-quality care at affordable prices. Email us or call us today to schedule an appointment at our Spring Hill (352-684-1274) or Crystal River (352-794-6139) locations.

 

Sources:

https://www.interdent.com/gentle-dental/resources/why-a-head-and-neck-exam-is-important/

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