Keeping an Eye Out for Oral Cancer
At Kalil & Kress, every one of our professional cleanings/exams includes checking for oral cancer. This may seem routine, but it’s not. According to the American Dental Association, only 15 percent of patients reported receiving an oral cancer screening at their routine cleaning appointments with their dentists.
So, why do we care about checking for oral cancer? We think those other dentists are not fully doing their job — oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer, accounting for 643,000 new cases each year. At Kalil & Kress, we have a series of visual and tactile tests, plus we use the VELscope® system.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is described as cancer that begins in the oral cavity. This can include the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, gums, most of the tongue, the bottom of the mouth, and the hard palate.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
As part of your home hygiene, we recommend being on the lookout for any signs of oral cancer. These are some of the most common signs or symptoms:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn’t heel is the most common symptom of oral cancer
- Persistent mouth pain, in contrast to tooth pain
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other areas inside the mouth
- Jaw swelling
- Loosening teeth
- Jaw pain
- Persistent bad breath
How we check for oral cancer
During your appointment, both Dr. Kalil and Dr. Kress, along with your hygienist, will look for signs of oral cancer. These include any unusual bumps, growths, lesions or other anomalies. We check the head and neck muscles; this is why we push on your lymph nodes and the thyroid in the front of your neck. This is also why we pull on your tongue and check all around its base.
We also use VELScope for oral cancer screening. When we look in your mouth with this technology, healthy cells will emit a bright green glow while areas of concern appear dark. The device achieves approaching 100 percent accuracy when discriminating between normal mucosa from severe dysplasia or invasive carcinoma.
Is it time for your next checkup at Kalil & Kress? Call us at 603-880-8004 to make your appointment.