Visiting your dentist throughout the year is crucial to your oral health – and not just because they professionally clean your teeth. When your dentist looks inside your mouth, they’re looking for things like infections or signs of oral cancer. How do you check for oral cancer? The exam your dentist performs is easy and quick – you won’t feel any pain. Besides visually examining your mouth, your dentist will feel your neck, jaw, and floor of your mouth with their hands to feel for any lumps or sensitivities.
What Indicates Cancer?
Usually, your dentist is looking for discolored patches, red or white, inside your mouth. Sometimes, they’ll find areas that have abnormal textures or swelling in addition to the discoloration, these are often indicators of oral cancer.
Since oral cancer could be anywhere – your dentist will try to look at every inch in and around your mouth to rule out any type of cancer. However, sometimes it can hide and is extremely hard to see with the naked eye. This is why your dentist may recommend an x-ray periodically to look for cancer or other infections that they’re unable to see otherwise.
As with other diseases and illnesses, the earlier you’re able to catch oral cancer, the easier it is to treat.
What Increases Risk Of Oral Cancer?
There are several behaviors that can increase your risk factor for developing oral cancer. One of the leading risk factors is tobacco – whether you’re smoking or chewing, no matter how you use it. However, that isn’t the only habit that can increase your chances of oral cancer. Continual facial sunlight exposure, HPV infection, and a genetic history of cancer all play a large role as well.