Oral cancer screening check ups should be a routine part of a patient’s dental maintenance. Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.
Common symptoms of oral cancer or pre-cancerous cells inlcude any of the following:
- Tiny, white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, or crust.
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
- A change in the way the teeth fit together.
- A sore that bleeds easily or refuses to heal.
- A color change of the oral tissues.
People who are at greater risk for oral cancer include users of tobacco in any form, people who consume heavy amounts of alcohol combined with smoking, people over the age of 40, and those who have prolonged exposure to the sun (lip cancer). Patients who fall into this high risk category should have an annual exam in combination with a regular visual examination.