On the lookout for mouth cancer
When you come to your dentist in SW14 for a check-up, we aren’t just looking out for gum disease and tooth decay, we are also doing a thorough check for signs of mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. It has been much less common in the UK, but now it is on the rise. According to Cancer Research UK, over the last decade, the number of people dying from mouth cancer has risen by 21%, with similar increases among both men and women. Not only that, but UK death rates are projected to rise by 38% between 2014-2035. It seems that mouth cancers are linked to tobacco, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and drinking alcohol, in that order.
At Sheen Dental, your dentist in SW14, we are trained to detect the early signs of mouth cancer, and use your six-monthly dental check-ups to carry out a mouth cancer check. These days, after we have checked each of your teeth for signs of decay and destruction, and for signs of gum disease, we also look for early signs of tumours.
What we will look for
Mouth cancer usually appears in linings of the mouth. So we will carefully check the insides of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth (palate), the lips, and gums. Tumours can more rarely also develop in your saliva glands, your tonsils, and your pharynx, which is the part of your throat that connects your mouth to your windpipe.
Mouth cancers show up as:
painful mouth ulcers that don’t get any better;
strange lumps in the neck that don’t go away;
loose teeth, or sockets that won’t heal after extractions;
lips or tongue that feels numb or odd;red or white patches;
changes in speech, such as a lisp.
Mouth cancer is more likely to affect drinkers and smokers, and this may be why more men get it than women, and why it is more prevalent in people over 50 and younger than 74.
One of the reasons that your SW14 dentist checks for mouth cancer is that, if it is caught early, it can often be cured with relatively minor surgery.