Most people don’t think of dentists as true lifesavers, but they really can be. More than one dentist has found something suspicious during an oral cancer screening and sent the patient to a physician for further testing. And more than one patient can thank their dentist for helping them catch oral cancer early when the otherwise fatal disease is treatable. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so now is the perfect time to schedule a screening with your dentist in Scarborough.
Where Does Oral Cancer Occur?
Oral cancer can appear anywhere inside or around the oral cavity—on or in your lips, inside your cheeks, on your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or under your tongue on the floor of your mouth. Oropharyngeal cancer happens in your throat, at the back of the tongue or on your tonsils.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Your dentist in Scarborough looks for certain signs that may indicate pre-cancerous or cancerous cells are present in soft tissue. You should also be familiar with the early warning signs of oral cancer so you’ll be able to spot anything suspicious in between visits to the dentist. Be on the lookout for:
- A sore in your mouth or on your lips that won’t heal
- Red or white patches that can be rough or smooth
- A spot that feels tender or numb
- A lump of area of thickened tissue
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, talking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in your bite or in the way dentures fit
If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t wait for your next dental checkup! Call your dentist in Scarborough immediately to schedule an oral cancer screening.
Are There Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
While the disease strikes men and women of all ages and backgrounds, there are certain risk factors that increase the odds of developing oral cancer. No surprise, a leading risk is the use of smoking or chewing tobacco. Add excessive consumption of alcohol and the risk is even greater. Other risk factors are sun exposure, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and a family history of oral cancer. In addition, oral cancer is twice as common in men as in women.
How is Oral Cancer Detected?
During your dental exam, the dentist will review your medical history and ask about any changes in your health. Then, the screening will begin. The dentist will visually examine your mouth, lips, cheeks and tongue, as well as the back of your throat. Then, he will palpate your jaw and neck to feel for any lumps or abnormalities.
If you’re due for a dental checkup with an oral cancer screening that may save your life, contact a dentist in Scarborough today.
About Our Office
While Willow Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is committed to the oral health and complete well being of patients. The dentists offer a complete menu of dental services, including a comprehensive dental exam that includes a screening for oral cancer. Give us a call today.