Thousands of Canadians are diagnosed with life threatening oral cancer every year. If detected early, oral cancer has an estimated 80% survival rate. Being able to recognize abnormal conditions in your own mouth is important in early detection and could save your life.
Oral cancer can develop on the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, under the tongue, roof of the mouth, back of the mouth, throat, and tonsils.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Red or white patches in the mouth.
- Mouth sore that bleeds or will not heal.
- Teeth that suddenly become loose.
- Dentures that do not fit anymore.
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking.
- Lumps or swelling.
- Enlarged/hard lymph nodes.
- Persistent earache.
The course of healing in the mouth is two weeks. If you are experiencing the above problems beyond two weeks you should contact a dental professional or medical physician.
- Tobacco use (smoking and chewing tobacco).
- Excessive amounts of alcohol consumption
- Too much exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays.
- Lack of vegetables and fruit.
Performing a monthly self examination will help detect oral cancer early. Looking in a mirror check for the following: both sides of your face and neck are the same, feel both sides of your neck and face for any bumps or sore spots, your Adam's apple should move up and down freely when swallowing, check your lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, under the tongue, roof of the mouth, back of the mouth, throat and tonsils for any colour changes, lumps, or tenderness.
Your Dentist and Dental Hygienist perform routine oral cancer examinations to help with early oral cancer detection. They can also provide you with valuable information on quitting smoking, nutrition counseling, and more oral cancer information.
Until next month, keep smiling,Kristine Lundy, RDH