One of the most important parts of an oral exam is when we screen for oral cancer. While the risk is much greater if someone smokes or uses chewing tobacco, other people can get oral cancer as well. Here at Ford Dental Group, we want you to know that early detection is the best way to treat and beat oral cancer. Here is what you need to know about an oral cancer screening and some things that you need to watch for.
Oral Cancer – The Basics
Oral cancer affects tens of thousands of people each year. The survival rate soars when oral cancer is caught early.
The first thing that we will do during an oral cancer exam is a visual inspection. We will use a dental mirror and visually check your teeth, gums, cheeks, tongue, and the back of your throat.
Next, we will do a physical exam. We will feel for any lumps that should not be in your mouth. Lumps are often the first sign of cancer, but many lumps are benign. Do not automatically assume if there is a lump that you have cancer, but still make an appointment if you find one so that we can check it out.
If we find something suspicious, we might do a further exam with additional instruments. We might order a biopsy as well.
Of course, screening for oral cancer begins before you walk through our door. You need to know the signs to watch for at home. Once again, this is especially important if you smoke or chew tobacco. If that is the case, we recommend that you look for a way to quit.
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
You already know that if you feel a strange lump in your mouth that does not go away after a day or so, you need to make an immediate appointment. That is not the only sign that you might have oral cancer.
Chronic mouth pain is a symptom of many different ailments. Oral cancer is one of them. Do not ever ignore chronic pain. Similarly, if you have pain or swelling in your jaw, we need to know about it. Your jaw might swell with oral cancer. If you have jaw pain or limited jaw motion for more than a few days, we need to check it out.
If you have mouth sores that will not heal, that is another possible symptom of oral cancer. You might think that it is just a canker sore, but canker sores are much more painful than the sores with oral cancer. You might not feel any pain at all. We also want to know if you have unexplained bleeding in your mouth.
Sore throats are common, but if it does not go away, you need to have it checked. The same thing is true for numbness of the throat or chronic ear pain.
We cannot tell you enough how important it is to catch oral cancer early. If you have been experiencing any symptoms, make an appointment here at Ford Dental Group by calling (714) 409-6161. Please do not put it off. For other dental services like dental exams, dentistry for kids, and dental cleanings.