Oral Cancer and Why Your Checkup Could Save Your Life
Here at Cosmetic Dentistry Center, we are all about creating stunning smiles, but we want you to be healthy to enjoy your smile. You probably visit your physician at regular intervals for health checks, and your regular dental checkups are every bit as important. Our dentists are probably the only people who get to regularly examine the inside of your mouth and have been specially trained to pick up any signs of abnormalities. One of things they specifically look for are any symptoms of oral cancer.
This disease is still quite rare but one of the major problems with oral cancer is late diagnosis. Often the early symptoms are overlooked or dismissed as being something that will clear up in time. A late diagnosis can mean treatment is much trickier and often less successful. In comparison, our dentists will carefully check the inside of your mouth at regular intervals, looking at your tongue and checking the appearance and texture of all your oral tissues. Oral cancer can develop on the lips, tongue, cheeks and on the floor and roof of the mouth. So what kind of signs are they looking for?
Possible Symptoms of Oral Cancer
One of the most common symptoms of oral cancer is noticing that you have an unexplained sore patch in your mouth. Initially it may appear to be an ulcer or canker sore, but these should typically heal up within a couple of weeks. Any sore patches that fail to heal should be investigated by a cosmetic dentist.
Other symptoms include noticing that certain areas of skin in your mouth have become thicker or rougher, or perhaps have lumps and bumps. Sometimes oral cancer can cause loss of feeling or feelings of pain or tenderness in the mouth or neck area. It can also create changes to the way your teeth bite together, or it may affect the fit of any dental appliances. Some people may find that they experience difficulty in chewing or swallowing or it could feel as if they have something stuck right the back of their throat. Visual changes can include the development of white or red patches in the mouth.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?
One of the main risk factors for oral cancer is smoking and smokeless tobacco products are no better. People who drink excessively are also more at risk of developing oral cancer, as are people who have a family history of this disease. Other risk factors include exposure to the human papilloma virus or excessive sunbathing at a young age. Even if you don’t have any of these risk factors you should still get regular checks. Around a quarter of those people diagnosed with some form of oral cancer will have no known risk factors.
What Happens If a Dentist Spots Any Changes?
If we do see anything slightly suspicious, then our dentist can take a small sample of cells to send off for analysis. Alternatively we might choose to refer you to a specialist so they can take a closer look.
If you are ever worried about any changes to the inside of your mouth then weigh urge you to come and see us here at Cosmetic Dentistry Center. We can soon provide you with a proper diagnosis, hopefully setting your mind at rest.