Regular dental check-ups are important for overall health. In addition to screening for decay, gum disease and other oral health concerns, oral cancer screenings are routinely performed during check-ups. Oral cancer is defined as an uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. It often appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. It can also look as benign as a white and/or red film that will not wipe off. Oral cancer can spread very rapidly and be life threatening if not detected and diagnosed early. For this reason, it is important that you maintain regular dental check-ups and monitor oral health at home.
Oral cancer generally “hides” under the tongue, along the sides of the tongue, and on the soft palate. Early diagnosis is of utmost importance. You should contact your dentist if you notice: a sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks, a white (Leukoplakia) or red (Erythroplakia) patch anywhere in the oral cavity, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, but they also indicate the possible presence of oral cancer. Only a professional will be able to give an accurate diagnosis. So see your dentist regularly, early detection is key. With early detection and timely treatment, deaths from oral cancer could be dramatically reduced. The five year survival rate with localized disease is 81% compared to 30% when spread to other parts of the body.
Dr. Fiasconaro is available by appointment at Cenla Dentistry by calling (318) 640-3200.