Mouth cancer is also called oral cancer and can affect the soft tissues inside your mouth including your cheeks, lips, the roof and floor of your mouth and your throat. Without early diagnosis, mouth cancer can be life-threatening. Last year in Canada, 4700 people were diagnosed with some form of mouth cancer, and 1250 Canadians died from this disease.
Part of the problem is late diagnosis because often the early signs are easily ignored or missed. The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely we can treat this disease successfully and less invasively. Mouth cancer is another reason why you should visit your dentist in Bowmanville regularly.
How Regular Preventative Dental Care Can Help
Dentists receive specialized training in detecting the first symptoms of oral cancer and are most likely the only health care professionals who examine your mouth regularly. An oral cancer screening in Newcastle is quick, painless and non-invasive, and you might not even realize it has taken place!
A dentist screens for oral cancer by visually examining the inside of your mouth. They will examine your tongue and the floor of your mouth and might also feel your neck, just to check your lymph glands. A visual examination allows your dentist to see if there are any changes to the colour of your oral tissues, such as white or red spots. Also, they check for any changes to the texture including any lumps or other raised areas, or for any sores or ulcers.
It is unlikely that they will detect any problems, but if your dentist does spot anything wrong, they can either take a small sample of cells using a tiny brush or will refer you to a specialist if needed. Most times, any changes are due to other causes, but it is always better to err on the side of caution!
Are Some People More at Risk Than Others?
Some people are more at risk, including men over the age of 50 and people who smoke. Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer compared to non-smokers. Other risk factors include using alcohol to excess, being exposed to excessive sunlight, having a family history of cancer or having the human papillomavirus. However, it’s crucial to remember that 25% of people diagnosed with mouth cancer have no known risk factors, which is why regular screenings are so important.
Checking Your Mouth in between Visits
In addition to your regular oral cancer screenings in Clarington, it’s worth checking your mouth every month. Symptoms to look out for include swellings or lumps and bumps or rough spots or crusty areas inside your mouth or on your lips or gums. Look out for any colour changes such as red or speckled white and red patches inside the mouth, or areas that look velvety white.
Other symptoms include difficulty chewing or swallowing or feeling as if you got something caught in your throat, having a chronic sore throat or noticing your voice has changed. Any unexplained numbness in your mouth, face or neck area should be investigated or bleeding or persistent sores that fail to heal within two weeks. Dentures or other dental appliances may fit slightly differently.
If you are ever worried about your dental health or notice any changes, it’s always worth getting in touch with us here at West Bowmanville Family Dental. We can schedule a quick checkup with our dentist in Courtice, but please don’t ignore any worrying symptoms because we are here to help you.