With November being Mouth Cancer Awareness month, it is important to highlight the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
During a dental appointment, your dentist will naturally look for abnormalities within the mouth and these include signs of oral cancer. It is important that in between dental appointments you also take notice of what is going on inside your mouth. If you notice any changes is it essential you tell your dentist or doctor immediately.
Mouth cancer can develop in most parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, cheek and the throat. If it is caught early, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of ten – those odds are pretty good, and that’s why early detection is so important.
– If in doubt, get checked out.
It can be hard to spot symptoms of mouth cancer, which is why it is important to regularly attend your dental appointments. Your dentist can perform a check-up and look for slight abnormalities that you might otherwise miss. If anything is found, your dentist will provide onward referral to a specialist for further investigation.
Given that early detection is so crucial for survival, it’s extremely important that we all know what to look out for. In between dental appointments you should look out for changes in your mouth health that could indicate mouth cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Mouth Cancer:
Three signs and symptoms not to ignore are:
- Ulcers which do not heal within three weeks.
- Red and white patches in the mouth; or
- Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
If you notice anything unusual in your mouth, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your dentist.
Checking for Mouth Cancer:
When checking for signs of mouth cancer you should follow the following routine:
Head and neck
Check if both sides look the same and search for any lumps, bumps or swellings that are only on one side of the face. Feel and press along the sides and front of your neck being alert to any tenderness or lumps to the touch.
Pull down your lower lip and look inside for any sores or changes in colour. Use your thumb and forefinger to feel the lip for any unusual lumps, bumps or changes in texture. Repeat this on the upper lip.
Use your finger to pull out your cheek so that they can see inside. Look for red, white or dark patches.
Then place your index finger inside your cheek, with your opposing thumb on the outside gently squeeze and roll the cheek to check for any lumps, tenderness or ulcers, repeat this action on the other cheek.
The roof of the mouth
With your head tilted back and mouth open wide, your dentist will look to see if there are any lumps or if there is any change in colour. They will run their ﬁnger on the roof of your mouth to feel for any lumps.
Examine your tongue, looking at the surface for any changes in colour or texture.
Stick out your tongue or move it from one side to another, again looking for any swelling, change in colour or ulcers. Finally, take a look at the underside of the tongue by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
The floor of the mouth
Look at the floor of the mouth for changes in colour that are different than normal. Press your finger along the floor of your mouth and underside of your tongue to feel for any unusual lumps, swellings or ulcers.
If you find anything unusual in any of these areas, or are unsure of anything, visit your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
The best ways to prevent mouth cancer:
- Cut down on alcohol consumption;
- Cut down or stop smoking;
- Getting the HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9; and
- Enjoy a healthy diet.
You can book a dental appointment with Temple Dental.