One of the biggest benefits of regular dental visits that we truly hope you never have to experience firsthand is the early detection of oral cancers. Because many of the signs of oral cancer are often mistaken for symptoms of other health issues, patients should always report any unusual oral symptoms to their dentists even if they do not think those symptoms are indicative of a dental problem.
Dr. Pat Crawford’s dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, can help you determine if you need to investigate the possibility of an oral cancer. Dr. Crawford reminds his patients that oral cancers can often lead to lung cancer, so it is imperative you determine whether you have this condition as quickly as possible after symptoms begin.
Because cancer cells grow and divide extremely rapidly, oral cancers that begin on the tongue are easily spread to other parts of the body. Often, we find patients are confused about whether they might have oral cancer because they have heard it referred to as “head and neck cancer,” which is not inaccurate but can be misleading and cause patients to believe they do not have a problem if the inflammation exists on their tongue or elsewhere in their mouth. You can treat oral cancer, but the earlier you detect it, the better.
Here are 4 signs of oral cancer you cannot afford to ignore (even though it might seem relatively easy to do so at first):
- Mouth Sores
We’ve all bitten the inside of our cheek and experienced that painful bump on the inside of our mouth that seems like it will never go away. However, if you find you have a sore that really doesn’t go away, then you could have an oral cancer forming. Sometimes, these sores will develop into lumps or thickened places in your cheek, while other times they simply remain unhealed. Either way, check with your dentist immediately.
- Difficulty Swallowing and/or Chewing
As we age, many adults find it becomes more difficult to swallow. This becomes particularly evident when trying to swallow pills “dry.” However, if you experience other difficulty swallowing, such as when you are chewing your food at a meal, you could be experiencing a symptom of oral cancer. Let your dentist know right away!
- Your Dentures Stop Fitting
Oral cancers affect the shape of your mouth long before you are likely to notice a problem. That is why poorly fitting dentures are sometimes a sign that you could have a developing problem. If your dentures don’t fit, do not put off letting your dentist know. There are a lot of reasons your dentures might not fit perfectly anymore, and it just makes good sense to rule out oral cancer as one of them.
- Bad Breath
No one likes to admit they have bad breath. Most people will go to crazy lengths to cover it up. The truth is, though, that most people have bad breath sometimes. If you have bad breath all the time, though, then talk to your dentist. We promise, we won’t judge you; we can help, and it could be a sign of a much more serious problem.
Oral Cancers Can’t Wait
If you have symptoms of oral cancer, getting a dental opinion is not something that can wait. Because of their location in your mouth, it is very easy for oral cancers to spread throughout your body. Make an appointment today if you have any of these four symptoms.
Learn more about oral cancers and other oral issues as well as important oral hygiene strategies at PatCrawfordDDS.com.