Early Diagnosis of Oral Cancer Can Improve Outcomes
At your dental hygiene appointment, we’ll look for signs of oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends that oral cancer screenings happen annually starting at age 18.
These pain-free screenings take only about two minutes and have the potential to diagnose cancer at an early stage. No special preparation is needed.
Early detection of oral cancer may result in better treatment outcomes. It may help keep you or someone you love from becoming one of the 10,030 people whose lives will be claimed this year by the disease.
What are the Types of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is divided into two categories:
- Those occurring in the oral cavity (lips, inside of lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, front of tongue and floor and roof of mouth), and
- Those occurring in the oropharynx (middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue)
How Do You Screen for Oral Cancer?
During your exam, your hygienist will talk with you about any concerns or symptoms you have been experiencing. He/she will be especially vigilant in checking the areas that oral cancer are typically found:
- Inner lining of the cheeks
- Roof of the mouth
- Floor of the mouth (under the tongue)
- Oropharynx (throat, tonsils, base of tongue)
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
If you have any of the following symptoms, be sure to let Dr. Hicks or our hygienists know:
- A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
- A growth or lump inside your mouth
- Mouth pain
- Ear pain
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Loose tooth
Your lifestyle can also affect your risk for oral cancer. Tobacco use, including the most recent trend of e-cigarettes, can increase your risk. People with constant sun exposure and prior cancer patients are also at a higher risk for oral cancer.
If you need help kicking your tobacco habit, our team is here to support you in that effort. Our goal is to keep you healthy, whether that’s in the form of lifestyle changes or an oral cancer screening.