April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral cancer that is not treated immediately can be life threatening, so it’s important to keep regular appointments with the dentist to make sure that your mouth stays healthy. April is National Oral Cancer Awarness Month, so if your due for a routine checkup, or have a sore in your mouth that won’t go away, contact Apex Dental (http://www.apexdentalsmiles.com) to schedule what could be a life saving exam.

Oral cancers are not confined to the gums and inside of the cheeks. Cancer of the lips, hard and soft palate, sinuses, throat and soft palate are all considered oral cancer in addition to the tongue, floor of the mouth and cheeks. Symptoms can include white, red or speckled patches in the mouth, lumps, rough spots or thickening in areas inside of the mouth, on the gums or lips, persistent sores that don’t heal within 2 weeks, the feeling that something is lodged in the throat, hoarseness, ear pain or a difference in the way the teeth fit together.

An oral cancer screening exam is part of the routine dental examination. It will involve the dentist looking for sores or discolored tissue. He will also feel for irregular tissue changes or lumps in your neck, face and head as well as in the mouth.

If the dentist spots suspicious tissue while doing an oral exam, he will do a painless oral brush biopsy. A small sample of tissue will be taken so that it can be analyzed for abnormal cells. In some cases, the dentist may suggest that a scalpel biopsy be performed. The dentist will either do this in the office with a local anesthesia or refer the patient to a specialist.

It’s important that the tests are conducted to detect oral cancer as early as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best chance to keep the cancer from progressing and spreading.

Most people know that routine dental care is the best defense to preventing gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay. In many cases they don’t know that the preventative visits to the dentist for a routine exam can also be the best defense against oral cancer.