Did you know that our doctors can examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer during your regular dental check-up? People have a tendency to put off regular dental exams. This could be one reason why oral cancer is usually detected in late stages when it can be fatal. Each year in the United States, over 45,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and it will cause over 8,600 deaths.
However, you might be able to ward off late-stage oral cancer by doing something as simple as going in for a regular dental checkup. We look for oral irregularities that could signal oral cancer. Here are a few things we look for:
What the Dentist Looks For
- Unexplained Bleeding: Do you have spots in your mouth that bleed for no reason? If so, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
- Bumps, Rough Spots, or Other Irregularities: When cancer cells grow inside your oral tissue, they can create bumps, rough spots, or other irregularities. Some patients become so used to these malformations that they overlook the danger.
- Numbness: Do parts of your mouth or face ever feel numb or tingly? When cancer spreads, it can interfere with nerve connections and cause that numb feeling.
- Dental Changes: Are those once-perfect dentures fitting a little oddly? It could be a sign that dental cancer has changed your oral anatomy.
- Ear Pain: Depending on the location of the disease and the effects it has had on the structures of your mouth, jaw or ear pain might be present.
How To Prevent Oral Cancer
Fortunately, you might be able to fend off oral cancer by making a few life changes. Here are a few ways you might be able to prevent problems:
- Receive Regular Dental Checkups: Don’t put off your dental checkups. Instead, schedule a new appointment before you leave the dental office. In addition to looking for problems, your dentist will also become more familiar with your mouth, so that he or she can spot malformations.
- Quit Tobacco Products: Both chewing tobacco and smoking exposes your mouth’s tissues to deadly chemicals. If you are trying to quit, talk with your doctor about other products that might help you to curb cravings.
- Know Your Family History: Talk with your parents about your family history. If you have a long line of relatives who have struggled with cancers of the head or neck, you need to be extra careful about oral cancer.