Benefits of Regular Screening for Oral Cancer

September 17, 2018 | Mint Dental Works

Coming in for your six-month check-up allows us to do more than prevent cavities and gum disease.
These regular appointments also give us the opportunity to inspect your mouth for signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, and early detection is critical.  If left
unchecked, oral cancer can spread into the bones of the jaw or the lymph nodes in the neck.
That’s why we’re on the lookout for mouth cancer in its early stages during every routine exam.

Who Is at Risk for Oral Cancer?

  • Anyone can get cancer of the mouth, but statistics reveal that lifestyle choices, gender and age play big roles in
    its development.
  • Tobacco in all its forms is the number one culprit. Smoking and chewing tobacco each give rise to
    different types of oral cancer. Approximately 80 percent of people with the disease have used
  • Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with about 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer.
    According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, those who both smoke and drink have a 15-times greater
    risk of developing oral cancer than those who don’t.
  • Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women.
  • The disease is most commonly found in people over the age of 40.
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight (such as working outdoors daily) can also increase the risk of oral
    cancer on the lips.

How We Make an Assessment

During your check-up we are looking for areas of discoloration, irregular tissue changes, lumps, sores or other abnormalities. We examine the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums, tonsils, throat and the bottom and roof of your mouth.

While regular check-ups allow our trained professionals to investigate for early signs of oral cancer, you
should pay attention to what’s happening in your mouth and throat too.

What Should You Look for?

Signs and symptoms of oral cancer are very similar to conditions that pose no threat to your health. Pain
is not an indicator of mouth cancer. Some symptoms may be painful and others may be painless. If you
have any of the following symptoms that do not heal within 14 days, make an appointment so we can
do a thorough examination.

  • Lumps, thick areas, rough spots or crusty areas inside the mouth
  • White, red, or speckled white-and-red patches of tissue in the mouth that don’t heal
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
  • Voice changes in adults
  • A soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
  • Changes in how your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, and/or moving the tongue or jaw

Next Steps

During the exam, if our dentists see or feel the tissue changes that can lead to oral cancer, notice
symptoms or view something suspicious, we may recommend a biopsy or refer you to a specialist.
Biopsies are relatively quick procedures that are not painful, and they help determine an accurate

As with any cancer, getting a diagnosis in its early stages will help ensure treatment is as effective as possible. Oral cancer screening is an important aspect of every exam at Mint Dental Works.  If you are overdue for your regular appointment, call us today to schedule an examination so we can help keep your health in good form!