Why Do Dentists Sometimes Check Your Throat/Neck

While finishing up your dental exam, your dentist might touch around the outside of your mouth particularly around the neck and chin. This inspection is done to feel for any strange anomalies that might indicate oral cancer or swollen lymph nodes. This exam is quick and painless a good way to notice any early warning signs for either oral cancers or other abnormalities. Oral cancer is particularly common for patients who smoke or chew tobacco products but it can also develop for patients who have never use tobacco. This part of the exam is yet another way dentists help protect their patients’ health. If you live in the Swampscott area and need to schedule a dental visit please call us. 

How Do Dentists Conduct A Neck/Head Screening?

During your dental exam your dentist will take a look around the outside of your mouth including feeling your neck and thyroid. Your dentist will gently touch around your neck and look for any abnormalities that could be linked to oral cancer or other health concerns. Your dentist will also look at the back of your throat, tongue, and tonsils to look for signs of either oral cancer or other issues. 

It should be mentioned that one common type of swelling that happens around the neck and throat is the swelling of lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a part of the lymphatic system and swelling is an extremely common symptom of a variety of illnesses. It is usually not a concern if the lymph nodes swell but might be a reason to check for other symptoms. 

What Dental Issues Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes


The lymphatic system helps the body filter and rid itself of harmful bacteria and viruses. When the body is fighting an infection the lymph nodes might begin to swell. This swelling especially around the lymph nodes in the head can sometimes happen in conjunction with oral infections. 

Abscessed Teeth

An abscess in an infection that happens around a tooth. It can be caused by dental decay or an injury around a tooth. An abscess is a buildup of pus caused by an infection. Other symptoms include a toothache or a bad taste/smell in your mouth. 

Canker Sores

Canker sores are type of ulcer that forms around the mouth, Canker sores tend to appear around the gums. Canker sores have many causes but are frequently related to bacterial or viral infections. Canker sores can sometimes happen in conjunction with swollen lymph nodes. 

What Is An Oral Cancer Screening?

Some dental offices provide oral cancer screenings. An oral cancer screening is often a part of the overall dental exam and is conducted twice a year with your regular dental visits. A screening can be purely visual or might use specific devices. For example there are devices like VELscope that use an LED ring that helps dentists see the signs of oral cancer. If there are any signs of oral cancer your dentist might recommend setting up an appointment with an oncologist or other health provider that specializes in cancer diagnosis and treatments. 

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