According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 49,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017. When caught and diagnosed in its early stages, oral cancer (which can occur on the mouth, lips, tongue, gums, salivary glands and throat) is very treatable. For this reason, it is important for you to be aware of the various signs and symptoms, as well as the importance of oral cancer screenings.
Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer
- Mouth and lip sores that do not heal within 14 days
- Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth
- Jaw swelling
- Persistent bleeding of the lips or in the mouth
- Rough spots or crust in the mouth
- Persistent numbness in the tongue, lips or mouth
- Hoarseness or other changes in voice
- Loose teeth or changes in the way the teeth fit together
- Impaired jaw function (i.e., difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw)
- Sore throat or numbness
- Ear pain
- Bumps or swelling in the neck
If any of these symptoms last for more than two weeks, you should schedule an examination with your dentist as soon as possible.
Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening
In its early stages, oral cancer may not produce any visible symptoms. The American Dental Association recommends you get screened regularly for oral cancer with your dentist. Oral cancer screenings can be performed at the time of your routine dental checkup. During your screening, our team will examine your face, head, throat, neck and jaw for symptoms.
Discovering soft tissue abnormalities is an important part in detecting oral cancer in its early stages. At Kois Dentistry, our team uses cutting-edge tools and technology to detect abnormalities. One such tool is the VELscope, a safe and non-invasive device that uses a blue spectrum light to cause the soft tissues in the mouth to naturally fluoresce. With this light, our team can distinguish between healthy tissues and tissues that have been affected by trauma or disease. If an abnormality is detected, our team will take a small biopsy and send it to a lab for a clinical diagnosis.
If you have noticed any troubling symptoms and would like to be screened for oral cancer, please contact our Seattle office by calling (206) 515-9500 today.