Friday, April 15, 2016

Your Local Dentist Can Watch for Oral Cancer

Oral CancerAs an experienced dentist, we can help to watch for and identify signs of oral cancer. Early prevention is the key to fighting any type of cancer and by having your teeth examined twice a year, we can make sure that cancerous cells are not growing undetected. While we cannot guarantee that we will catch signs of cancer 100 percent of the time, a dental professional is typically your first line of defense when it comes to early prevention.

According to the American Cancer Society over 35,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer on an annual basis within the United States. This is a staggering statistic considering oral cancer is quite unknown and is very rarely discussed. Unlike breast cancer or heart disease where people have been trained to watch for signs, most people are unaware of the symptoms of oral cancer which makes early prevention difficult.

At our office, our staff has been trained on how to identify the signs of oral cancer so that we can help patients to get the care they need quickly. This can give people the best shot of defeating the disease rather than becoming sicker and sicker. We can also refer you to a specialist as needed.

Here are some signs of oral cancer that you can watch for, and what we look for during your dental examinations:

Spots inside of the mouth. If you have velvety red, white or a combination of red and white patches inside of your mouth it can be a sign of cancer. If the patches are near the front of your mouth you may be able to see them while brushing your teeth, however, routine examinations are important because a dentist can inspect your entire mouth and discover any signs of cancer early in the development stage.

Random bleeding inside of your mouth. If your mouth is bleeding unexplainably this can be a sign of oral cancer.
Sores that do not heal. It is normal for people to get a canker sore from time to time but when sores appear in your mouth, on your neck or face and do not go away within a couple of weeks, they could be signs of cancer.

Your teeth or dentures fit together differently. Your teeth shouldn't fit together differently unless something is causing them to move.  A wisdom tooth coming in or a tooth falling out is a reasonable explanation for why your teeth may shift. If there is not a logical explanation you may have a cancerous growth that is causing your teeth or dentures to move out of place.

Something in the back of your throat. If you feel like something is constantly caught in the back of your throat or your throat is constantly hurting you could have more than an infection.

Lumps, bumps, and rough spots. When cleaning your teeth our dentist will look for any strange lumps, bumps, or rough spots on your gums or the interior of your mouth. Your gums and cheeks should be smooth.  When they aren't this is typically a sign of a problem. You can check for this at home by running your tongue along your gum line on a frequent basis. If you notice something out of place or different schedule an appointment with your dentist.

We help patients to stay healthy with regular dental examinations and cleanings.  We will look for signs of oral cancer during your examination and inform you of any potential problems so that they can be dealt with immediately.