ZocdocAnswersDoes a CT scan of the teeth show mouth cancer?

Question

Does a CT scan of the teeth show mouth cancer?

My teeth have been bleeding a lot. I am 40. I am afraid of mouth cancer. I am going to ask for a CT scan of my teeth. Will this show the mouth cancer if I have mouth cancer?

Answer

There are many things that can cause bleeding in your mouth, and not all of them are cancer. A CT scan would show some signs that might be indicative of an oral cancer, but it might not be the best test for you. A physical examination by a qualified medical professional (likely an ENT, aka otolaryngologist) would probably be the best place to start your questions, and he or she could then recommend imaging as needed. Some common problems such as gingivitis, or irritation of the gums, can also cause bleeding, as can taking common blood thinners such as aspirin or coumadin. Continued bleeding of the mouth, or any body part, is definitely a reason to speak to your physician, and I am glad that you are planning on doing that. A history of certain social behaviors, such as smoking, smokeless tobacco, and alcohol consumption, can all predispose you to developing mouth cancer. Additionally, if you have a family history (meaning a close relative had it as well) of head and neck cancer, you should be more diligent in routine surveillance and preventive measures. And finally, a CT scan would be effective at demonstrating changes in the bone of the head and neck, but will need to be discussed with your doctor before it would be recommended just to get one.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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