April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and is extremely important to talk about since the early detection of oral cancer is the key to beating it. Unfortunately, many people dismiss the signs and symptoms as something else and the cancer is caught late, decreasing the patient’s chances of survival. Every time you go to the dentist, before your cleaning, your dentist will examine your mouth and make note of anything that seems out of the ordinary.
Here are some of the places that they examine, as well as the things they are looking for when screening for oral cancer.
Head and neck
Lumps, bumps, and swelling is what the dentist is looking for here, especially if they happen to only be present on one side of the neck. Alert your dentist to any places that feel tender as they prod around the area.
Your dentist will pull down your lower lip to check for any sores or odd patches of color. They will also use their thumb and forefinger to massage around the area to check for any lumps or unusual swelling.
Here, your dentist is looking for any red, white, or dark patches of color on the inside of your cheek. Likewise, with the lips, your dentist will take their thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze and roll your cheek to check or swelling and bumps. Be sure to alert your dentist to any cheek injuries that you know the cause of, such as if you have accidentally bit your cheek recently.
Roof of the mouth
If oral cancer is present, the roof of your mouth may have lumps and be a different color. This is what the dentist is checking for here.
Your dentist will be looking for odd colors, lumps, and textures all over your tongue, including the other side. This check is easily done at home as well by standing in front of the mirror. Report any unusual finding to your dentist or health care professional as they may be signs of oral cancer.
Your dentist should perform a complete mouth exam every time you go and visit for a cleaning. This is why your bi-annual cleanings are so important–not just for maintaining a bright and healthy smile, but also to keep you safe and alert you to anything you should be concerned about.
If you haven’t already scheduled an appointment, please contact us today so we can book you in.