Blog post by Leigh Ann Edmonds

Here at eyeSMILE Dental, patients will have an oral cancer screening performed at every routine dental visit. Your dentist or hygienist can spot early indicators of oral cancer by performing a simple exam which will only take a few minutes. This exam will include us visually looking at the tissues on the face and inside the mouth. We will feel for lumps along the face, jawline, neck, and floor of the mouth. We will be looking for any suspicious lesions inside the mouth concentrating on the floor of the mouth, under the tongue, side of the tongue, and back of tongue. There are several strong contributing factors that increase your risk of oral cancer and those include using tobacco and alcohol, age, diet, and Human Papilloma Virus, commonly referred to as HPV. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that children or adults can be vaccinated for prior to being sexually active. Oral cancer was once considered to be an older person cancer but because of the strong link with HPV it is found in younger people more now than in the past.

Signs and symptoms to be aware of are:

  • A lump or irritated sore that forms and lasts longer than 2 weeks. In general, a sore in the mouth should heal within 2 weeks.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Red or white patch, mostly on tongue or floor of the mouth.
  • A sensation that something is caught in your throat
  • Firm lump found around your neck or jaw.
  • Change is speech, hard time moving tongue.

You might be asking what happens if a suspicious lesion is found? We will refer you to an oral surgeon to evaluate the lesion, he will most likely remove a small sample and send it to a lab for a biopsy. The good news is you can control most of these risks by eating right and staying away from tobacco.