Oral Self Examination

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Oral Self Examination

Modified Oral Self Examination Techniques by Dr Victor Fan

Wash your hands and look in front of a mirror with good lighting. Do the following 10 steps in a

systematic fashion from the lips, cheeks, tongue, floor and roof of mouth looking for any abnormalities:

Lips Step 1 and 2: Lift up upper and pull down lower lip to look right inside the fold

Cheeks Step 3 and 4: Stretch open right / left cheek to look inside to the furthest corner

Tongue Step 5,6 and 7: Stretch out tongue to check the left and right and under-surface

Floor of mouth Step8: Lift tongue up to check floor of mouth

Palate Step 9 and 10: Tilt head back to check palate and say “arrh…” to check soft palate


What to look out for ?

Cheek Mass

Tongue Mass

Palate Mass

Lip Mass

Neck Mass

Face Mass

Cheek Ulcer

Tongue Ulcer

Palate Ulcer

Lip Ulcer

White Patches

Red Patches


Do not make any diagnosis of your own; always consult a dentist or doctor.

Consult your dentist or doctor if there are any signs or symptoms of:

  1. Unexplained numbness, loss of sensation or pain on lips, tongue, mouth, face, neck
  2. Change in the voice, persistent hoarseness or sore throat or pain in the ear
  3. Difficulty in speech or swallowing or sensation in throat that don’t go away
  4. Ulcers that do not heal within 2 weeks
  5. Swellings lips, mouth, face and neck and white/red patches inside mouth

Some facts on Mouth or Oral Cancer

  1. Oral cancer include cancers of the lip, the mucosa (inside lining of the lips and cheeks), tongue, gums,
  2. floor of the mouth underneath the tongue, hard palate and the area behind the wisdom teeth.
  3. They are usually painless in the early stage
  4. Cigarette smoking, chewing/ smoking tobacco, alcohol consumption are the common risk factors for oral cancers.
  5. They can arise from premalignant lesions, which are easily detectable by routine oral examination.
  6. Oral cancers diagnosed in the early stages are curable.

Mouth Cancer Self Examination Techniques prepared by Dr Victor Fan, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Gleneagles Hospital; Visiting Senior Consultant, NUHS, Singapore.

Adapted with thanks from Dr Moni Kuriakose, Amrita Head and Neck Cancer Detection and Prevention Clinic, AIMS Head and Neck Institute, Cochin, India. (Nov 2009)

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BDS (Singapore)
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