Dentists do much more than fill cavities and fix crowns. They have a comprehensive understanding of how oral health impacts overall wellness. They even play a critical role in detecting certain kinds of cancer. Early detection is critical to winning the fight against cancer.
How Can a Dentist Detect Cancer?
Many dentists incorporate an oral cancer screening as part of your regular, bi-annual check-up. They may put a piece of gauze around your tongue and lift it, moving it right and left, looking all around for signs of oral cancer or precancerous lesions. They may also feel the lymph nodes in your neck to detect abnormalities that could indicate a problem.
Other Signs of Oral Cancer
While your dentist or oral surgeon may be able to detect signs of oral cancer during an exam, it’s also important that you are tuned in to your own body. Cancer of the mouth may not necessarily cause pain. So what should you look for in between those check-ups? If you notice any of the following changes to the gum tissue near the teeth, tongue, cheeks, palate (roof of your mouth), lips, face or neck, contact Dr. Coyne to schedule an appointment. Warning signs may include:
- Reddish patches in the mouth
- Whitish patches in the mouth
- Sore that won’t heal or bleeds easily
- Skin inside mouth is thick or lumpy
- Chronic hoarseness or sore throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Performing a monthly check of your mouth could provide you the early detection you need, even if you aren’t experiencing pain or discomfort.
How Serious Is Mouth Cancer?
Any and every cancer should be taken seriously and addressed with the appropriate medical or dental professional immediately to set up a plan for treatment. Cancers of and around the mouth, face and neck are no exception. If left untreated, they have the potential to spread and become even more difficult to treat. The mouth is one of your body’s critical early warning systems. Pay attention to what it tells you. It could save your life.
Early Detection and Treatment Matter
If mouth cancer or warning signs associated with oral cancer are detected, the next step is creating a treatment plan with an experienced professional oral and maxillofacial surgeon such as Dr. Cathleen Coyne at Coyne Oral Surgery. Call 615-771-0017 to schedule your appointment today.