Dentists and primary care physicians find over 49,700 new cases of oral cancer each year. While the disease spreads quickly, having oral exams during your regular teeth cleaning appointments will detect the illness so it can be remedied. Learn more below about the signs of oral cancer and steps you can take to prevent it.
5 Symptoms of Oral Cancer & Prevention Tips
1. Mouth Sores
Mouth sores are a common symptom of oral cancer. These lesions do not heal over time and may bleed frequently. If an uncomfortable cut or gash on your lips, gums, or inner cheeks does not mend after a few weeks, talk to your dentist. They will provide you with a detailed oral exam to determine if you have signs of precancer or another condition.
2. Difficulty Swallowing
Mouth cancer also makes it difficult or painful to swallow. Some patients may choke while eating and drinking, while others feel like they have a lump in their throat every time they use their throat muscles. If you have been evaluated for conditions like acid reflux or heartburn and do not have either illness, visit your dentist for an oral cancer evaluation.
3. Oral Growths
Many types of cancers appear as growths. If you have a lump or thickening of the skin inside your mouth, you could have oral cancer. Tell your dentist how long the growth has been present and if it makes it difficult to eat or talk. Some lumps are also caused by abscesses and mouth irritation.
4. Jaw Pain
Mouth cancer may appear in the jaw. Patients with disease in this area often feel pain, swelling, or stiffness. If your lower mouth discomfort does not go away, seek an oral exam. Tumors in the jawbone can lead to loose teeth and visible inflammation.
5. Loose Teeth
Gum disease, osteoporosis, and trauma may cause your teeth to become loose. However, it is also a symptom of oral cancer. If a tooth or multiple teeth feel like they are shifting out of place, see your oral hygiene team as soon as possible. They will find the cause of the abnormality and recommend prompt treatment.
Oral cancer leads to serious problems for your teeth, gums, and jaw. Partnering with a skilled dentistry team will help you maintain your oral hygiene and catch any issues before they become too hard to manage. To learn more about their dentists and services at their three locations, visit Dental Associates of Prairie du Chien, P.C., Family Dentistry Associates of Monona and Waukon Dental online.