Frequently Asked Questions


What is an oral spot?

Oral spots are tissue changes in the mouth, typically white or red areas.  They may be found on the tongue, inside of the cheek, or elsewhere in the mouth, and may occur in response to multiple factors such as long-term irritation.  They are referred to clinically as “leukoplakia” (white) or “erythroplakia” (red) if their cause is not known.


Common oral spots

How do I know if I have an oral spot?

Basically, you have to look and pay attention. If you notice a white or red “spot” or area while you are brushing and flossing it needs to be monitored. If it doesn’t go away within 10 to 14 days it should be brought to the attention of your dentist or physician. They can test it to make sure it doesn’t contain abnormal cells, that if left alone, may progress to oral cancer. If they tell you that it’s “nothing” but it doesn’t go away, you need to bring it to their attention again and ask for a BrushTest, or get a second opinion.

If I have an oral spot does it mean that I have oral cancer?

Spot On A Woman's TongueNot at all. The majority of spots in the mouth don’t contain abnormal cells. However, spots can indicate to your doctor exactly where unhealthy cells may be located. Most of the time oral spots are benign, but it’s important to get them tested. Just like a pap smear, OralCDx® allows doctors to identify abnormal cells at an early stage and remove them before they can harm you — before a spot has a chance to progress to oral cancer.

My dentist does a screening. Why does he need OralCDx?

Oral Health/Oral Cancer ScreeningIt’s great that your doctor performs an annual “visual” screening. It’s an important first step. He’s looking for changes in your mouth; areas with color and/or texture different from the surrounding areas.  The BrushTest is a virtually painless way for your doctor to test these areas, or “spots”. Unless there is a clear cause (such as a cheek bite or rubbing tooth), there is no way for him to look at these oral spots and know that they don’t contain unhealthy cells. The OralCDx BrushTest provides evaluation by expert pathologists and a result that can guide your doctor in further management.

My dentist uses a light. Does he still need OralCDx?

Yes. The BrushTest is necessary because doctors can’t treat the patient until they know what something is. Some dentists may choose to use a light to look around your mouth to find spots, but they are not necessary to perform a screening. The light cannot tell why the spots are there or which spots are healthy and which contain abnormal cells. To do this, the cells have to be analyzed under a microscope by pathologists. OralCDx is used to help determine the cause of your spots and to make sure that they aren’t precancerous. It’s similar to the pap smear.

Is the BrushTest® accurate?

Even though it’s minimally invasive and done right in the dentist’s office, the OralCDx BrushTest® has been shown to be at least as sensitive as a scalpel biopsy in ruling out oral precancer and cancer. Its’ accuracy has been demonstrated in large published clinical studies, including a major clinical trial conducted at 35 U.S. dental schools. Its use by over 30,000 dentists has already detected precancerous cells in thousands of patients, long before they could progress to oral cancer.

Does the BrushTest® hurt?

Performing OralCDx BrushTest on a patientMost patients say that it feels like a stiff toothbrush being rubbed on the spot. Different areas of the mouth will feel different, but your dentist or physician can use a topical anesthetic without affecting the test results.