How a Dentist Spots Oral Cancer

Posted on: May 1, 2014

As a local dentist we do a lot to help our patients maintain good oral health.  Education and detection both play a key role in the services we provide.  We educate our patients on how they can stay healthy at home and detect any oral health issues that may exist so that we can treat them.  During dental exams we look for and remove bacteria and plaque that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.  We also look for signs of oral cancer.  Dental exams such as these are a patient’s best possible chance at identifying oral cancer or other oral health issues.Studies have shown the importance of early detection.  When someone is diagnosed with any type of cancer, they have a better shot at beating the disease the earlier it is detected.  This opens up a wider variety of treatment options and enables the cancer to be dealt with before it spreads to other parts of the body.  It is difficult for anyone to see inside of their own mouth, making it equally difficult to identify the signs or symptoms.When having a dental exam our dentists are able to look at all areas of your mouth to determine if there are any signs of disease.  Some of the common things we look for are:
  • Sores in the mouth, face, or neck.  Other than the common canker sore, there should be no sores that form on the inside of your mouth or along your face and neck.  If there are, we will conduct an examination and may suggest further testing.
  • Bumps.  A red or white velvety bump along the inside of your mouth can be a sign of cancer.  Additionally, a harder lump or bump can be filled with cancerous cells.  When these are identified we typically request that a biopsy be performed so that the lab can test it.
  • Bleeding.  When the mouth bleeds it is typically caused by gum disease or some sort of trauma.  When neither one is present it may be a sign of oral cancer.
  • Rough spots.  If you ever feel a rough spot or patch inside of your mouth, call the dentist. The interior of your cheeks and gums have a smooth surface, and there should be no presence of a rough spot when you run your tongue along the inside of your mouth.
While at home, you can check for bumps or rough spots after brushing your teeth.  You should also pay close attention to pain or difficulty when trying to swallow.  If the pain is related to a bacterial infection, you will likely have additional symptoms.  If it is an isolated discomfort it could be a sign of cancer.Don’t ignore signs or symptoms or skip out on dentist appointments.  By having an exam completed you can get the treatment that you need and stay healthy for a longer period of time.  Instead of taking your good health for granted, call our office and schedule a dental exam.

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