Your regular dental examination could save your life!
Checking for irregularities in your mouth.
When your dentist examines your mouth they are checking on the health of your teeth and gums but that’s not all. Regular appointments with your dentist allows them to recognise any abnormalities in your mouth. Any lesions, marks, lumps or patches can be checked and if necessary referred.
These abnormalities don’t necessarily mean anything serious. It could be you have bitten the side of your cheek, or have eaten something hot and you have burned your palate. These things are always best checked and if necessary treated.
On rare occasions these lumps or bumps can be a sign of oral cancer.
What is oral cancer?
Approximately 7000 cases of mouth cancers are diagnosed every year. Oral cancer is most common in men aged over the age of 40. There are many different types of mouth cancer and any irregularity in your mouth should be checked as soon as possible.
Just like there are different types of mouth cancer, there are different signs and symptoms of cancer too. These include:
- red or white patches on your tongue or cheeks
- lumps or bumps
- chronic sore throat
- difficulty with chewing or swallowing
Any of the above that have not healed within 3 weeks should be checked with your dentist or doctor.
You dentist will ask you questions regarding the irregularity in your mouth and decide whether to monitor it or refer you to a specialist for further treatment which may include a biopsy.
What causes mouth cancer?
The main culprits are smoking and alcohol. You are six times more likely to develop mouth cancer if your smoke, and 50 times more likely if you chew tobacco. If you drink a substantial amount of alcohol and combine it with smoking, again you are 6 times more likely to develop mouth cancer. There has also been a link to oral cancer with the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). In fact a HPV Vaccination is now being given to both girls and boys.
Are they treatable?
Like any cancer the earlier they are detected the higher the chances of successful treatment. Treatment involves surgery and then either radiotherapy or chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
To reduce the risk of mouth cancer don’t smoke, limit the amount of alcohol you drink, visit your dentist every 6 months and have a good oral hygiene routine at home. Prevention is always better than cure and although we cant completely stop ourselves from developing cancer, we can do everything we can to help prevent it.
Contact us for information, advice or an appointment on 01245 211070 or visit https://www.blueskydental.co.uk/treatments/oral-surgery-essex.