During your twice-yearly exams with Dr. Fong, we do more than simply break off the tartar and scrub away the surface stains on your teeth. Sure, making your teeth look great is part of the deal. But even more important is our examination for the signs of oral cancer. That’s why Dr. Fong will pull on your tongue, check your glands, and perform other brief diagnostic exercises.
There are various symptoms of oral cancer, but our visual examination is critical to early detection.
What is oral cancer?
More than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. 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.
Symptoms of oral cancer
As part of your home hygiene, Dr. Fong recommends 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
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- Persistent mouth pain, in contrast to tooth pain
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Numbness of the tongue or other areas inside the mouth
- Jaw swelling
- Loosening teeth
- Jaw pain
- Persistent bad breath
If Dr. Fong finds any suspicious lesions (lumps, bumps, or sores) during your exam, he will usually opt to remove the growth and send it off to the lab for evaluation. Most of these growths prove to be benign, but if they are cancerous they key to treatment success is catching them early. That’s one of the reasons we ask our patients to be diligent about keeping their twice-yearly exams with us.
Is it time for your next cleaning/exam with Dr. Fong? Call us at (714) 549-1903 to make your appointment.