Tooth Talk with Dr. T: Oral Cancer Exams

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:39 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Tooth Talk with Dr. T: Oral Cancer Exams

We perform a thorough oral cancer exam during each checkup because early detection can save your life.

Oral cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the mouth and throat, and some of the warning signs are a red, white, or discolored patch or lump in or around your mouth; a sore that bleeds easily or that doesn’t heal within 2 weeks; and area that has thickened, raised, or become hardened; a rough patch of tissue; difficulty chewing or swallowing; a chronic sore throat or hoarseness. If you notice any of these signs, tell us right away. Don’t ignore a warning sign just because it doesn’t hurt. Most pre- cancerous and cancerous lesions are completely painless. During the exam, we’ll feel for lumps or abnormal tissue changes on your neck and inside your mouth. We’ll thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth, especially the most frequent oral cancer sites: your tongue, the floor of your mouth, your soft palate, your lips and your gums. We may also do additional testing or use specialized equipment to identify any suspicious areas, particularly if you’re at a higher risk, such as adults over 40, anyone who uses tobacco, especially those who also drink alcohol excessively, or people who have had oral contact with the human papilloma virus.

Some lifestyle changes can minimize your chances of developing oral cancer. First, don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco, avoid excessive use of alcohol and make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day. With regular exams and a healthy lifestyle, you can better maintain your oral and overall health. So check with your dentist or hygenist at least a couple times a year so we can make sure you stay healthy.

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