Oral cancer is a serious problem across the United States, largely because many people remain unaware it exists. Each year, more than 40,000 people will develop oral cancer, with one person per hour succumbing to the disease. Like other forms of cancer, the oral cancer can be treated if it is found early enough. This is why it is so important that you maintain regularly scheduled visits with your dentist.
What is involved in oral cancer screenings?
Your dentist will usually perform an oral cancer screening during your usual bi-annual checkup visit to their office. They will thoroughly examine your mouth, feeling for any unusual bumps on your gums, inner cheek, and tongue. They will also check for any irregular looking tissue and any sores inside your mouth. Oral cancer may also cause you to experience symptoms in your head, face, or mouth, and they will ask if you are experiencing any of these. If they notice anything unusual, your dentist will perform a completely painless oral brush biopsy in order to perform further tests.
Common symptoms of oral cancer
Like many other forms of cancer, the symptoms of oral cancer may not initially be alarming. Speak with your dentist and let them know if you begin experiencing any of these common oral cancer symptoms:
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Sores on the gum
- Sores on the inner cheek that do not heal within one to two weeks
- Numbness in your mouth or throat
- White patches on the inner cheek or gums
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty moving your jaw normally
- Changes in tooth alignment
Oral cancer symptoms aren’t necessarily localized to the mouth. Many patients report that they experience symptoms throughout their head and throat, as well. A persistent or recurring sore throat, sore sinuses or recurring sinus infections, and ear pain may all be symptoms of oral cancer as well.
Why frequent screenings are important
Because many people are unaware of the dangers, oral cancer actually kills more people each year than some of the more well-known forms of cancer. The oral cancer screening process is incredibly simple, and can help your dentist identify issues early. As with other cancers, early identification and treatment is the key to successful treatment. Even if you aren’t experiencing any of the previously mentioned symptoms, it is still important that you schedule an oral screening appointment at least once a year.
If you have been putting off a visit to your dentist, do not wait any longer. Maintaining a regular schedule of visits to your dentist is the key to catching oral cancer early and ensuring you can get the necessary treatment as soon as possible. Call Kenneth Hill, DDS today at (702) 897-7267 to schedule your consultation appointment. Our caring and professional staff will help ensure you stay as healthy as possible. We have performed a number of oral cancer screenings and can ensure that you are diagnosed in time to receive early treatment if oral cancer is present.