One of the most vital benefits of regular dental check-ups is in the opportunity it provides for the early detection of major health issues like oral cancer.
Statistics show that 2 of every 150 men and one of every 150 women, are likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer at some stage in their lives. It’s got strong connections with tobacco and alcohol use and is usually found in older people. However, there is no guarantee that because you are young and don’t smoke or drink, you won’t be among that number who fall victim to it.
The good news is that more than half of those diagnosed will still be alive five years later, and 40 percent after 10 years. These statistics would be even better if people were to become more aware of the need for regular screening for this disease so that early intervention can be taken.
What to tell your dentist
Become constantly vigilant for changes or discomfort of any sort in your mouth, neck, throat, or ears while performing your daily oral hygiene routine. Don’t wait for your regular check-up to tell your local dentist in downtown Vancouver about them if they have lasted for more than two weeks. However, if you have not done so, be sure to mention them at the check-up – it could save your life.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Any swellings, bumps, lumps or patches, or red or white lesions in your mouth, on your lips or in your neck.
- Hoarseness, or a sore throat that won’t go away.
- Burning sensations, tenderness or numbness anywhere in your mouth, your lower lip, face or neck.
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking.
- Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw, or feeling like you constantly have a lump in your throat.
- Teeth that are loose for no apparent reason.
- Pain in one ear without hearing loss.
The oral examination procedure
The examination is quick and easy. You shouldn’t experience any real discomfort in the process though the manual inspection of the inside of your mouth may feel a little strange! A good deal of the examination relies on visual screening, with your dentist looking at different areas for any obvious signs of trouble.
You will need to remove any dentures or partials if you have them. Your dentist will them take a good look at your face and neck before examining your lips and the inside of your mouth. This will take the form of a visual examination as well as a physical one. The dentist will feel the sides of your neck and the area under your jaw as well as the insides of your cheeks and lips.
To check the back of the tongue and underneath it thoroughly, the dentist will have to lift and move your tongue from one side to the other. The roof and base of your mouth will also be examined for any signs of cancer, before a final check is done by gently pressing down with one finger on the floor of the mouth, while your chin is cupped with the other hand, to check for sensitivity or lumps.
Should your dentist find anything during the examination that arouses concern, he will then take further steps to investigate the problem.