April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This type of cancer is most commonly found on the surface of the tongue, lips, gums or throat. Perhaps the most important fact about oral cancer is that early detection can save lives. In fact, patients have a 90% survival rate when it is caught at its earliest stages.
How do you detect oral cancer early? If you don’t visit your dentist for regular exams, this can be more difficult. Oral cancer symptoms include the following symptoms that don’t subside after about two weeks:
- Persistent sores or lumps in your mouth or throat
- Red or white patches in your mouth or lips
- Feeling of something stuck in your throat
- Change in the way your dentures feel or fit
- Areas of numbness, pain or tenderness (including tongue)
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
If you notice any of the above warning signs, let your dentist know. At Gilreath Family Dentistry, we conduct oral cancer screenings during your routine checkups. We carefully look for changes in your oral tissues. We also use the leading technology of VELscope, which is a device that emits a special light that shows the cancer before it is visible to the naked eye. Rest assured that this procedure is totally painless, quick and non-invasive. Your dental insurance may even cover your annual oral cancer screening!
If the technology exists to detect oral cancer early and save your life, why not take advantage of it? All it takes is keeping your routine dental checkup on the calendar. There is no preparation required for the screening and it only takes a few minutes to perform – while you remain comfortable in the dental chair. If your screening does reveal any precancerous or cancerous lesions, we will explain the next steps for biopsy and follow-up. In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, take a closer look inside your mouth today and take note of any suspicious discoloration, patches, sores or swelling.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,