Oral Cancer Symptoms, Screenings, & Prevention Tips

Emergency Dental Care In Ann Arbor M

Oral cancer is a serious health concern that, when diagnosed early, can be effectively managed and often cured. Our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists play a pivotal role in early detection by offering oral cancer screenings as a routine part of dental care. We recommend adults get screened at least once a year, though more frequent evaluation can prove useful if you’re at higher risk for the condition.

Here are the common symptoms of oral cancer, the screening process, and essential prevention tips to help maintain your oral and overall health.

Understanding Oral Cancer Symptoms

Regularly keeping tabs on the state of your teeth and gums is important because if there’s an issue of concern, you’re more likely to notice. Fortunately, when oral cancer is caught early, it is much easier to treat so learning to spot the warning signs is an invaluable skill.

Here are some common signs to watch for:

  • Persistent Sores: Any sore in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks should be considered suspicious.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Persistent mouth pain is a common symptom.
  • Lumps or Thickening: Lumps, bumps, or thickening of the inside of the mouth or on the lips.
  • Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing: A feeling that something is caught in the throat, difficulty swallowing, or difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Color Changes: Unexplained changes in the color of the oral tissues, such as patches of red or white.
  • Voice Changes: A change in your voice or feeling that your voice is being obstructed.
  • Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss can sometimes be associated with oral cancer.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to contact our Ann Arbor dental office as soon as possible so we can take a closer look.

The Oral Cancer Screening Process

During a routine dental visit (typically before your teeth cleaning), our team can perform an oral cancer screening, a quick and painless part of your examination. Because oral cancer can show up in many different areas, we’ll thoroughly check the roof and floor of your mouth, lining of your cheeks, your gums, lips, tongue, and tonsils.

You can expect the following during a screening:

  • Visual Inspection: We’ll look for any abnormalities in your mouth, throat, neck, face, and oral tissues. This includes checking for asymmetries, swellings, bumps, patches of color, ulcerations, and other unusual signs.
  • Physical Examination: Following the visual inspection, we’ll physically feel the tissues in your mouth to detect any lumps or other abnormalities. This might include palpating your neck, jaw, and oral cavity to assess for any unusual masses or nodules.

This screening is typically done without any special tools or equipment and takes only a few minutes. It is a vital part of your dental check-up, especially for those at higher risk for oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Prevention Tips

The best defense against oral cancer is prevention. Implementing positive lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your risk of developing this disease. Below, we’ve outlined several proactive strategies that not only contribute to your overall well-being but are also specific to reducing the risk of oral cancer.

Lower your risk by:

  • Avoiding Tobacco: Both smoking and smokeless tobacco are primary risk factors for oral cancer. Quitting tobacco reduces your risk significantly.
  • Limiting Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of oral cancer. Limit your intake to moderate levels.
  • Wearing Sun Protection: Use lip balm with an SPF rating to protect the skin on your lips from the sun, as exposure can increase the risk of cancer in this area.
  • Eating a Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk of oral cancer.
  • Practicing Good Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing can reduce your risk of oral infections that might contribute to oral cancer.
  • Attending Regular Dental Visits: Since our dentists are often the first providers to notice potential signs of oral cancer, regular visits can help catch it early.

Schedule Your Screening Today

Oral cancer screenings from our dentists in Ann Arbor, MI, are a crucial part of preventive dental care, offering an opportunity for early detection and intervention. By understanding the symptoms, participating in regular screenings, and adopting preventive measures, you can greatly enhance your chances of catching oral cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful.Call Excel Dental today at (734) 929-9999 or contact us online to request an appointment.