When you come in and see a River Valley Smile Center dentist for an exam, part of what you are getting is a screening for oral cancer. It may not seem obvious to you, but it is something that is done each time we see you for a full examination. We are looking for anything out of the ordinary that could be caused by early cancer cells. Here are a few things our dentists look for when you get your exam.
Early Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is not just cancer inside your mouth. It can include anything directly connected to your mouth as well. You could have issues on your cheeks, in your sinuses, down your neck or throat, or even in the roof of your mouth. This is why the dentist typically feels your jaw and down your neck a bit.
During your exam, your River Valley Smile Center dentist will look in and around your mouth. We are looking for discolorations in the tissues around the mouth. We are also looking for sores in those tissues. When we find a sore that is struggling to heal, or bleeds very easily, we want to keep an eye on it. It should heal significantly, despite being around your mouth, in around two weeks. If it hasn’t healed at that point, we are going to want to take a deeper look.
We are also going to look for tissue that has changed in your mouth. This can happen slowly, which is why we ask that you make sure to come in every six months, so we can see changes as they happen. If an area of tissue has gotten thicker, bumpier, or changed shape slightly, it could point to a growth within your mouth that we would need to investigate.
Ear or sinus pain is something we want to know about, as it can also point to signs of early cancer growths. Voice changes or a chronic sore throat can also be signs that something is going on that needs more attention.
What may seem like no big deal to you, may be a big red flag to one of our River Valley Smile Center dentists. Give us a call today if you haven’t been here in the last six months, so we can help keep an eye on your overall oral health. We are ready and willing to help!