Oral Cancer

Early detection is the key to successful treatment of oral cancers, so your dentist is the first line of defense.  Ask your dentist about oral cancer screening at your next regular visit.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a common cancer which has a high mortality rate if it is not caught in the early stages.  Early detection is key, so regular dental visits are very important.  It affects all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

The following are signs of oral cancer.  Make an appointment immediately for a thorough examination if you suspect a problem:

  • Small, white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth, including the tongue, lip, gum tissue, cheek lining, the hard or soft palate or other mouth area.
  • Often pale, but can be dark or discolored
  • A deep, hard edged crack
  • Often intitially painless
  • Could eventually cause a  burning sensation or pain
  • A sore or lesion  that bleeds easily or does not heal in two weeks
  • Any part of the mouth that changes in color
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips or tongue
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together or the fit of your dentures
  • A sore throat or a feeling like something is stuck in the throat

How can my dentist help?

Your dentist is the first line of defense because regular dental visits are an opportunity to thoroughly examine your mouth.  Not only are regular dental visits part of the good oral  hygiene that reduces the risk of oral cancers, but dentists are often the ones who detect oral cancers fisrt.  Ask your dentist to discuss oral cancer screening with you at your next visit. 

What can I do to reduce the risk of oral cancer?

Tobacco use is, by far, the biggest cause of oral cancers.  All the following may help reduce your likelihood of oral cancers:

  • Quitting or reducing smoking and smokeless tocacco use
  • Quitting or reducing alcohol consumption
  • Practicing good oral hygiene
  • Regular dental examinations
  • Yearly cancer screenings for soft tissue in mouth
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