Routine visits to the dentist are not only important for keeping your teeth clean and healthy, but can also help detect oral cancer early on, and thus seek treatment.
As with any kind of cancer, early detection is key, and at Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry we provide oral cancer screenings and exams to patients as part of their routine dental appointment.
One of the most common questions we hear from our patients are, “What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?” It’s important to understand that just because you are experiencing some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have oral cancer, but if you are in the Alpharetta area, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule your appointment here.
What is Oral Cancer?
Cancer can occur when the division of abnormal cells becomes uncontrolled. The abnormal cells become cancerous and are referred to as “malignant.” What constitutes oral cancer? Oral cancer can include cancer of the lips, mouth, tongue, back of the throat, and even into the esophagus.
What is an Oral Cancer Screening?
It’s possible you’ve already received an oral cancer screening and you simply weren’t aware! This screening is quick and painless and has become a routine part of dental exams. Your dentist will move your upper and lower lips away from the gums in order to get a clear view of your mouth. They will check the inside of your cheeks and jaw.
Your dentist will also take the time to ask you to stick your tongue out and they will move it around and side to side to be able to see if there are any suspicious spots present. If something is of concern, they will refer you to a specialist who will more than likely request a biopsy of the spot(s) to determine what they’ve observed.
A few of the most common signs and symptoms of oral cancer
Here are a few symptoms that could indicate oral cancer:
Dramatic, unexplained weight loss. Oral cancer sufferers often experience unexplained weight loss. If you have lost a substantial amount of weight for seemingly no reason, you should see a doctor immediately.
If you feel any lumps or bumps in the mouth or throat area, as well as rough, white patches that do not go away.
Difficult chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
Unexplained numbness in the mouth, throat, neck or facial area.
Persistent sores that bleed easily and do not heal in 2-3 weeks time.
As indicated above, any of these symptoms could be benign, but they could also be an indication of some form of oral cancer that needs immediate diagnosis and treatment.
What should I do now?
The prognosis for oral cancer is generally good, provided it is caught during the early stages. This is one reason it is so important to see us on a consistent basis, as an oral cancer screening is part of the routine dental exam performed at Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Alpharetta.
Dr. Silverman and his team are trained to include this service and care as a part of your visit and by keeping consistent tabs on your mouth, and looking for any abnormalities or changes at every visit, will ensure that you are receiving preventative care that can positively affect your overall health.
This is not something you want to put off for another year, or even another month. Give our office a call to schedule your oral cancer screening today!