Oral cancer is not usually mentioned in the public sphere in comparison to plaque buildup, cavities, and gingivitis – in fact, we rarely hear about it in the media at all. It is however, something we should be aware of.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is part of a group of cancers that is commonly referred to as “head and neck” cancers, which comprise about 85% of cases in this category. It’s one of the most deadly cancers because it has the potential to metastasize and affect overall quality of life.

What causes Oral Cancer?

HPV16, a virus, contributes to the incidence rate of oral cancers in the posterior part of the mouth. This means the oropharynx; the tonsils and the base of your tongue are generally affected. It’s hard to see lesions and discolorations in these areas, which is why it’s best to have a routine oral cancer exam with your dentist.

Determining symptoms

Some symptoms include:

–        Pain (of the mouth, tongue, gums and jaw)

–        Sores

–        Growths, lumps, thickening of the skin

–        Changes in the lining of the mouth

–        Poorly fitting dentures

–        Stiffness

–        Trouble chewing

–        Primary tumours

–        Risk of developing secondary tumours

Oral Cancer Exams

Dentures and removable dental appliances are removed before the exam, to ensure that all areas of the mouth are visible. Every comprehensive exam involves asking the patient a few important questions about their health, habits and symptoms. Some of these questions include:

–        Has there been a recent change in your voice?

–        Has swallowing become any harder lately?

–        Do you feel any obstructions when you swallow?

–        Are you experiencing or have you experienced any hoarseness?

–        How frequent was the hoarseness or how long did it last for?

–        Do you feel any lumps on the side of your neck?

–        Have you had any earaches, especially on one side?

Symptoms of oral cancer are sometimes hard to detect since painful instances may not seem very pressing. It’s important to pay attention to any new symptoms. These small details can make all the difference to your dentist’s ability to catch the potential signs of oral cancer in its early stages, before it moves to another part of the body.

At Sherwood dental, we have you in good hands. Get in touch with us to book an oral hygiene appointment with us today.