At least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer every day
Why is it important to get an oral cancer check?
Like any other form of cancer, the need for regular screenings is important to ensure more success in early detection and treatment. Oral cancer is readily diagnosed but it is often discovered late in its development generally when it has spread to another location such as the lymph nodes of the neck.
Unlike other screening tests such as mammograms, pap tests and prostate exams, an oral cancer check is much less evasive.
Do I need to get checked for oral cancer?
A regular screening as part of your dental exam is important however you may notice the warning signs earlier.
Some early signs of oral cancer can include:
- Any mouth sore or lesion that does not heal within two weeks
- Lumps or thickened areas in the cheek
- Discoloured (red or white) patches in the mouth
- Difficulty with chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue
- Numbness in your tongue or mouth
- Chronic hoarseness, sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Swelling of the jaw; denture wearers might notice that the dentures don’t fit or become uncomfortable
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms please contact the team at Bite Dental on (07) 3221 5399.
How does Bite Dental carry out an oral cancer check?
Dentists have a unique advantage when carrying out oral cancer screenings as they are used to prodding around people’s mouths. While the procedure is much less evasive than other health checks, it still requires a hands-on approach.
So you know what to expect, here are the typical steps used in an oral cancer screening:
- You will have to remove any dentures or partials you are wearing.
- Your screener will then visually check your face, neck, lips and mouth for any obvious abnormalities. These can be subtle signals such as slurred speech or asymmetry in your mouth movements.
- The screener will feel for any lumps in your neck and the underside of your jaw.
- Then, they will check your lips and cheek areas.
- You’ll have to stick out your tongue to check for any discolouration, swelling or sores.
- The next step might feel a bit odd. Your screener will pull your tongue out and around to have a closer look at the base, sides and underneath.
- They will check the roof and floor of your mouth as well as the back of your throat.
- Finally, the screener will check for any lumps in the floor of your mouth.
While this may seem like a lot of poking and prodding, this screening only takes two minutes or less to carry out.
What if they notice some lumps?
If they do notice any kind of abnormalities, a biopsy will likely be recommended. This involves removing a small piece of the suspicious tissue of your mouth and sending it to a laboratory for identification.
How can I minimise the risk of oral cancer?
- Don’t smoke
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Protect your skin
- Eat nutritious, wholesome food
- Look after your teeth
- Know the warning signs
- Do you need the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination?
Is it time for a dental check-up?
If you are due for a dental check-up or wish to enquire about an oral cancer check, get in touch with our team at Bite Dental on (07) 3221 5399 to make your appointment.