Many people fear going to the dentist because they are scared to receive bad news. While this is understandable, it is also a dangerous choice to make. Your dentist does a good deal more than “just” clean your teeth. The mouth is one of the first areas of the body to show signs of many diseases. Diabetes, acid reflux, pregnancy concerns, and heart conditions are all regularly spotted by dentists. Those who keep regular dental appointments are often healthier overall than those who rarely visit the dentist.
One of the most feared diagnoses is cancer. Despite all of the medical research and advancements that have been made, there is still a high death rate among those diagnosed with this disease. Oral cancer falls into this category with a 43% death rate within five years of diagnosis. Aside from tobacco use, the reason for such a high death rate from oral cancer is that many people overlook the first signs of this disease. While some signs and symptoms are rather obvious, many are not attributed to oral cancer and, thus, the disease is able to spread quickly into later stages before it is caught.
By knowing the signs of oral cancer, you can catch any warnings early:
- A sore inside the mouth or on the lips that will not heal
- A bump, lump, or growth anywhere inside or around the mouth
- Thickening of the cheek lining
- Persistent mouth pain that often does not have a point of origin
- Persistent sore throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Feeling like something is “caught” inside the throat
- Numbness of the lips, tongue, or other area in/around the mouth
- A change in the sound of your voice
- Chronic hoarseness
- Stiffness or soreness in the jaw
- Persistent bad breath
- Ear pain
- Drastic or unexplained weight loss
As you can see from the list above, many signs of oral cancer are often not attributed to the disease. Ear pain, sore throat, weight loss – these are often overlooked. Yet, knowing the signs of oral cancer can save your life. Please contact Pacific Sky Dental if you have any signs of oral cancer or any other concerns regarding your oral health.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Raymond Jone, Pacific Sky Dental