Your 6-month dental visit is essential and your first line of defense against oral cancer.
During the appointment, your dentist will examine your mouth, tongue, teeth, throat, palate, gums, cheeks, mucosa, and lips for any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions that may lead to mouth cancer at an early stage — when cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured. Digital X-rays or photos may also be taken. Oral cancers that are found at the early stages of development have an 80-90% survival rate.
The following are factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer:
- Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff
- Heavy alcohol use
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis
- A history of significant sun exposure – increases the risk of lip cancer
Some symptoms of oral cancer include:
- White and/or red patches inside the mouth
- Abnormal lumps or thickening of the skin or mouth lining
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Chronic sore throat