The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 4,700 new cases of oral cavity cancer were diagnosed in Canada in 2017. It is also estimated that 1,250 of those Canadians diagnosed with cancer will die from the disease*. These are terrifying statistics.
But did you know that dentists can play an important role in the early detection of oral cancer? A dentist may notice subtle changes in the mouth that a patient won’t, ensuring oral cancer is detected early and the patient receives timely interceptive and therapeutic treatment.
Common signs and symptoms of Oral Cancer that last for a long time are:
– A sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal
– White or red patches within the mouth
– A growth, lump or thickening of the skin or lining in the mouth
– Tongue pain, jaw pain or stiffness
– Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
– A sore throat
There is no proven way to prevent Oral Cancer. However, here is how you can reduce the risks:
– Stop using tobacco. It exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
– Drink alcohol only in moderation. Heavy alcohol consumption can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them vulnerable to cancer.
– Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and antioxidants found in them may help reduce the risks.
– Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Protect the skin on your lips from the sun. Apply a sunscreen lip product as part of your routine sun protection.
– See your dentist regularly. The examination performed during a routine dental exam is fast, easy and painless – and it could save your life. Your dentist will inspect your mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate existing cancer or precancerous changes.
Can Children Develop Oral Cancer?
Children’s risk for oral cancer is very low. However, it is not impossible for children to get oral cancer, particularly if other health problems are present or there is a genetic predisposition, which is why parents should be aware of the symptoms.
We take time during every checkup to examine your child’s mouth, throat, lips, and neck for any abnormalities. Please let us know if your child experiences any of the warning signs and symptoms we mentioned in this article.
For many reasons, including early detection of oral cancer, it is essential for kids to see a dentist on a regular basis. Make it a priority to schedule regular dental appointments to ensure your child enjoys the best oral health possible.
PDG Pediatric Dental Group is here to serve you. We have four locations in Metro Vancouver and would love to meet and take care of you and your family.
* (Source: Canadian Cancer Society – Oral cavity cancer statistics http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/oral/statistics/?region=on)