Early Warning Signs of Oral Cancer – What You Need to Know
The warning signs of oral cancer can be easy to miss, but the fact remains that early detection is key to receiving favourable treatment outcomes. The best way to minimise your risk of developing oral cancer is through making healthy lifestyle choices and visiting your dentist every 6 months for a routine check-up. However, you should still be on the lookout for common symptoms which may occur in any area of the mouth including the soft palate, lips, tongue and cheeks. Whilst oral cancer only accounts for approximately 6.5% of all cancers in Australia, at Sparkling Dental we feel it is important that everyone can recognise the early warnings signs which we will highlight below.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer may occur when cells grow uncontrollably around any of the oral tissues. This includes your gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, roof of mouth, floor of mouth, tonsils, throat and salivary glands. Whilst it is normal to have minor sores within these areas from time to time, any growth which does not heal should be examined by your dentist as soon as possible.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Smoking/Chewing Tobacco
Keep in mind that oral cancer can affect people of all ages, even those who do not drink or smoke. Therefore, you should aim to visit your dentist for routine check-ups whilst also brushing teeth twice daily, flossing and using alcohol free mouthwash.
What are the 5 Early Signs of Oral Cancer?
- Sores which don’t heal
Canker sores can occur due to minor injuries and unknown causes, but they usually clear up on their own within a few days or weeks. If you have noticed a sore in your mouth which doesn’t seem to heal, you should book an appointment with Sparkling Dental for an examination. Some sores are slower to health than others, but it is a good idea to have this checked to rule out the possibility of oral cancer.
- Red or White Patches
The presence of red (erythroplakia) or white (leukoplakia) patches indicate precancerous changes are occurring within your mouth, throat, or lips. It is important that they are examined as soon as possible so that a treatment plan can be developed. Without treatment, these patches could become cancerous.
- Discomfort and/or difficulty eating
Oral cancer can make it difficult to chew and swallow, depending upon where it may be located. If you find it uncomfortable to chew or swallow, or if you have difficulty moving your jaw, you should raise these concerns with your dentist.
- Lump in Mouth or Throat
A persistent lump should not be ignored. Not only is this uncomfortable, it can also impact upon your ability to speak and eat. If you notice a lump anywhere within your mouth or throat, or if you have a persistent sore throat, please schedule an appointment immediately.
Unexplained pain within the mouth or ear is a common symptom of oral cancer. You should not be alarmed as this may be caused by something else, but you should seek a professional diagnosis as soon as possible.
Sparkling Dental – Book an Appointment for Early Detection of Oral Cancer
Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist every 6 months will aid in ensuring good oral health and early detection of oral cancer. If it’s been a while since your last appointment, or if you are concerned about oral cancer, please schedule an appointment at Sparkling Dental today by calling (02) 9953 0088. Our friendly team look forward to seeing you at our Neutral Bay practice soon.