Your dentist performs a screening at your dental checkup, but you only have these visits twice a year.
What are you supposed to do in the meantime? Looking over your own mouth every once in a while at home can help in the early detection process.
How to Get Started
First, make sure you have access to a mirror and are in a room with bright lights. Remove any dental appliances, such as dentures or retainers, exposing only the natural surfaces of your mouth. Examine all areas of your mouth; pull out your lips to examine the inside, as well as the interior of your cheek.
Tilt your head to check the roof of your mouth. Examine all surfaces of your tongue as well as underneath it. Finally, check for swelling under your jaw.
What Exactly Are You Looking For?
When you check your mouth, you are looking for signs of anything unusual. These things include:
|•||Red or white patches.|
|•||Lesions that haven't healed, even after two weeks.|
|•||Difficulty swallowing, eating or speaking.|
|•||Changes in the way your dentures fit, or in the way your teeth fit together.|
|•||Persistent sore throat.|
What Happens Next?
If you notice anything unusual, call your dentist to schedule an appointment. Your dentist will perform a closer, more thorough exam and may even order up tests, such as a soft tissue biopsy, which involves removing a portion of the lesion for testing. If it is indeed deemed to be cancer, treatment will begin immediately to destroy it.
Oral cancer is a serious condition. If you ever notice anything unusual in your mouth, do not hesitate. Contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.