What to Know Regarding Oral Cancer

Seeing your dentist for regular dental appointments is important to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But these visits also serve another important purpose. That is because dentists search for early signs of mouth and oral cancer during regular checkups. Like most any disease or condition, the sooner it is discovered, the greater the chances for a complete recovery.

Oral cancer be found anywhere in the mouth, including the tongue, lips and throat. Cancer can also appear in the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinus cavities. Early detection is vital in combatting this disease and getting your mouth back to optimal health.

If you notice any lumps or swelling in your mouth or throat or pain or tenderness, see your dentist immediately. Other symptoms that need to be addressed include sore throat, hoarseness, loose teeth and trouble moving your jaw. If you also experience pain when moving your tongue, notice red or white lesions in the mouth, an examination is needed. 

The precise cause of oral cancer is unclear, but there are certain lifestyle factors that increase your cancer risk. Tobacco in any form, whether cigarettes, cigars, pipes or smokeless tobacco – enhances the chances of developing oral cancer. The Mouth Cancer Foundation estimates that 90 percent of those with oral cancer consume tobacco in some form.  Additionally, high consumption of alcohol increases a person’s chances of developing oral cancer, so remember to drink moderately if at all.

The good news is oral cancer examinations by your dentist are quick and not painful. These exams are crucial to detecting disease it in its earliest stages. During a routine checkup of your teeth and gums, your dentist will also check your lips and face for signs of issues elsewhere.

Of course, the best strategy is to prevent cancer in the first place. You should already be practicing solid oral hygiene techniques to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Brush daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss every day and limit sweet food and drinks. By regulating certain lifestyle choices – like not smoking and being smart with alcohol, you can appreciably lower your risk of developing oral cancer.

Being educated is important. If you know what to look for and see your dentist regularly, the early signs of mouth cancer can be identified and treated before they become a serious problem. In the Chicago area call the office of Dr. Scott Malik at (847) 724-1771 for all your dental needs. Dr. Malik and his professional staff can help you keep your mouth and teeth looking and feeling their best. Visit their website to discover all the services they provide.