April isn’t just for spring showers in the dental field, it is a time of year when we promote oral cancer and highlight early diagnosis for successful treatment. When you come in for yearly checkups, along with looking for cavities and gum disease, we are also on the lookout for any oral abnormalities that might indicate cancer in the mouth.
In fact, it is estimated that in 2018 more than 51,000 people will receive a diagnosis of oral cancer. This disease arises when abnormal cells begin dividing uncontrollably and become malignant or cancerous. Cancer of the mouth can affect any soft tissues in the mouth, including the bottom lip, the salivary glands, the esophagus, the area in the back of the throat, the tongue, the inside of the mouth, and even the tonsils.
Early discovery of the disease increases the effectiveness of treatment which is why your oral cancer screenings are necessary to diagnose and treat as soon as possible. We look for white or red sores in the mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal or go away within a couple of weeks, any kind of thickness in the cheek, numbness, difficulty chewing and swallowing, swelling of the jaw, or a change in your voice.
To protect yourself from oral cancer, we also urge you to avoid tobacco products of any kind and limit your use of alcohol. In addition, when you are out in the sun, consider keeping your lips protected with sunscreen. And finally, be sure to keep all scheduled dental checkups.
Do you have questions or concerns about your oral health? If so, we invite you to give our team a call at 651.488.5522 or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentistss, Dr. Opack, Dr. Stanton and Dr. David Opack. Our St. Paul Family Dentistry team in St. Paul, Minnesota, is happy to help you with all of your oral care needs.