Oral CancerApril 1st, 2021
When detected early, oral cancer is one of the more treatable cancers. Checking for oral cancer routinely is wise to catch the signs and symptoms as early as possible. There are some risk factors for oral cancer, but patients of any age can develop oral cancer. At Hamilton Family Dentistry, we perform an oral cancer screening as part of our general cleaning visits. We want to catch any signs of oral cancer at the earliest stage for the best possible treatment outcome. Our staff will be on the lookout for signs at your visit, but you should be looking for any warnings in between visits, especially if you are in the higher risk category.
Higher Risk for Oral Cancer:
- Patients who have a history of tobacco use, which could include chewing tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, snuff, pipes, etc.
- Patients who have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, known as Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Patients who are immunocompromised
- Patients who are over 40
- Patients who drink alcohol heavily/excessively
- Patients with diets low in fruits and vegetables
- Patients who have exposed their lips to excessive sun – likely through sunbathing
If you fall into one or more of these at-risk categories, you should be even more diligent with getting screened for oral cancer. Oral cancer can happen to anyone, but if you are at an increased risk, you should take that seriously.
What to Look For
If you have mouth or lip sores that never improve, discomfort when swallowing, loose teeth, ear discomfort, a lump or growth in your mouth, white or red patches inside of your mouth, or mouth pain, you should let us know. Although there can be other medical explanations for some of these symptoms, being proactive is wise. Also, you will have the peace of mind that all is well. If your symptoms are not oral cancer but still need relief, our team will offer solutions.
Oral cancer is not completely preventable unfortunately, but you can take steps to minimize your risks. Practice moderation with your alcohol use, eat a healthy diet, avoid excessive sun, stop using tobacco products, utilize intimate protection, and prioritize your dental checkups. Healthy lifestyle changes will be good for your general health and diminishing your risk factors. When you come for your annual, we will check on your smile and look out for oral cancer. If we do see any signs, we will recommend the best course of treatment. Otherwise, you will have clean teeth and peace of mind. Schedule your visit to Hamilton Family Dentistry today!