Regular visits to the dentist are an important part of your oral hygiene routine. They are also essential to the prevention and detection of serious problems like oral cancer.
Oral cancer results from abnormal cell growth in the mouth, lips, tongue or throat. If caught early, it can usually be treated successfully. Often the first signs of oral cancer are tiny white or red spots or sores that go unnoticed by most patients. Other symptoms of oral cancer include:
- a sore throat that does not heal
- lumps or thickening in the lips, gums or mouth
- sore patches in the mouth that do not heal
- a lump in the neck
- bleeding, pain or numbness in the mouth
- difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
Risk factors include smoking, heavy alcohol use (especially when combined with smoking), prolonged sun exposure on the lips, and poor diet. Oral cancer often strikes people over the age of 45, but cases are increasingly being reported in younger patients. Treatment may include a biopsy, imaging test (like an x-ray or CT scan) and chemotherapy.
Because they are trained to detect symptoms of various oral diseases, dentists are the first line of defence against oral cancer. At each check-up, your dentist examines your mouth, face and neck for any signs of the disease.
Oral cancer can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle that includes regular dental check-ups. For more information about oral cancer symptoms and screening, you can talk to a member of our team at anytime.