Oral cancer can happen to anyone, and the signs can be difficult to detect. That is why dental professionals are trained to spot potential oral cancer issues. This form of cancer can be survived if treatment is begun early. In many cases, your dental hygienist will be the one that calls your attention to it. Read on and find out more.

Signs of Oral Cancer

The red flags below signal a need to have more diagnostic testing performed. However, just because you notice one or more of the below symptoms doesn't mean you have oral cancer. As you can see, the signs can also mimic other less serious issues.

  • Sores that don't heal within a week or so.
  • Toothaches.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Firm lumps on the tongue.
  • Hard lumps on the outside of the mouth on the neck.
  • Pain when eating spicy or acidic foods.
  • Discoloration of the inside of the mouth.
  • Tiny bumps inside the mouth.

Screenings at the Dentist's Office

Some of the above signs are nearly impossible for patients to spot themselves. However, your dental professionals will screen for oral cancer at your regular appointments. They will examine your mouth for signs of cancer and palpitate your neck area to check for lumps. If they spot anything irregular, expect a referral to a cancer specialist for a follow-up. Naturally, being screened for oral cancer is one more good reason not to miss your regular cleaning and examination appointments.

Vulnerable Populations

Some people are more likely to suffer from oral cancer. If someone in your family has had oral cancer, be sure to let your dentist know so that more frequent checks can be performed. Other people may practice unhealthy habits and that can predispose them to oral cancer. Some of those include:

  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Use of any type of tobacco product.

What to Expect with Treatment

You will be referred to an oncologist, a surgeon, and perhaps a radiation doctor. The treatment depends on how far cancer has progressed. Many patients will need surgery, chemotherapy, and radiology. A person suffering from oral cancer will be depending on a team of doctors that includes a dentist.

You will be working closely with your dentist once a cancer diagnosis is made. Your dentist will be ensuring that dental treatments are performed when necessary either before or after the cancer treatment. Infections are a common issue with cancer treatment. If you also have an infected tooth or gum, your dentist may take aggressive action to treat the infection before any other forms of treatment can be performed.

For more information, contact a local company like Dentologie.