Karen Kelley RDH
Importance of Early Detection
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and, as dental professionals, we want our patients to understand the significance of routine oral cancer screenings. When you get your teeth cleaned, the dental hygienist or dentist will look at all the areas in your mouth, including your tongue. They will also check for any swelling along the neck. We do this on every patient regardless of age or habits.
Another way to identify a possible oral cancer lesion is to be aware of what is in your own mouth. Look at your tongue, the tissues of your cheeks and around the teeth. If you notice something like a red or white patch, take note of the appearance. If the lesion doesn’t go away after 2-3 weeks, go see your dentist for his opinion. He may check the area again after 2-3 weeks or he may refer you to a specialist to have the area evaluated.
“There is much that can be done for those who are diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Since early detection and treatment is critical, it’s important to see your dentist regularly and to promptly see a medical professional if there are any warnings signs,” — The Oral Cancer Foundation
Oral cancer symptoms:
Persistent mouth sore: A sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer
Pain: Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
A lump or thickening in the cheek
A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
Difficulty swallowing or chewing
Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
Loosening of the teeth
Pain in the teeth or jaw
A lump in the neck
Persistent bad breath
Again, if you notice any of these things, come into the office and get things checked out. The earlier oral cancer is identified, the better the outcome.
Want to learn more? Visit us at