Dr. Shelton, a Local Dentist, Looks for Signs of Oral Cancer

Posted on: April 30, 2014

DentistWhen patients visit Dr. Shelton, they see a local dentist that is passionate about preventative care and helping patients to stay healthy. Regular dental exams and teeth cleanings are important for removing bacteria and plaque in order to prevent cavities and gum disease. What many patients don’t realize is that we are also looking for signs of oral cancer.Oral cancer is a disease that impacts around 35,000 people in the U.S. every year.These are just the number of people that are diagnosed annually, leaving many more with undetected cancer. Even though the disease is fairly common, most people are unaware of how they get it or the symptoms associated with oral cancer.There are several things that increase a person’s risk of developing oral cancer. Using smokeless tobacco products like chew, dip, and snuff is the number one risk factor. People that use these products have a sixty times higher chance of getting the disease. Smoking cigarettes and cigars is tied with drinking too much alcohol for the second greatest risk factor and surprisingly, spending too much time in the sun is also a risk. All of these habits are known to cause some form of disease in addition to causing oral cancer, making it important to quit or avoid them as much as possible. At our local dentist office we encourage patients to make healthy choices.During an exam, Dr. Shelton looks for signs of oral cancer. This is important because it is difficult for someone to see inside of their mouth. We shine a bright light into the mouth during a dental exam and can see far more than the average person. This allows us to detect signs or symptoms and have them examined further in order to determine if oral cancer is present.Some of the common signs of oral cancer are:
  • Excessive bleeding. When the mouth bleeds it is typically caused by trauma, gum disease, or oral cancer. We treat gum disease in our local dentist office and can easily tell the difference between gum problems and something out of the ordinary.
  • Teeth moving out of place. Adult teeth and dentures should remain in the same position unless they are forced to move. If there is no obvious reason for them moving, it may be a sign of oral cancer.
  • Bumps and lumps. If a strange bump develops inside of your mouth, call our office and have it examined right away. It may need to be biopsied to determine if the cells inside of it are cancerous. You should be able to detect a new bump at home by running your tongue along the inside of your cheeks and gums.
  • Rough spots. The tissue inside of your mouth is extremely smooth. If you notice a rough spot or patch it could be cancerous.
  • Hard time swallowing. Tell us if you are having difficulty or pain when swallowing. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection or cancer.
Dr. Shelton is committed to helping patients to stay in the best health possible. Schedule an appointment with our dentist office today to learn why we care so much for you! 

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