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  • Writer's pictureThe Tooth Doctors

At Home Oral Cancer Screening Exams

by Jen

Many Canadians are diagnosed every year with oral cancer. We at the Tooth Doctor’s are providing Cancer Screening Exams at your regular hygiene visits and use Velscope technology for early detection, but you can help too.

It is estimated that in 2015: • 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer. • 1,200 Canadians will die from oral cavity cancer.

If Oral Cancer is detected early, the survival rate is as high as 80 percent. Learning to recognize abnormal conditions in your mouth and performing routine self-examinations are important detection measures and could even save your life. Oral cancer may develop in any of the following areas: • Lips • Tongue, gums, inside the cheeks, under the tongue, roof of the mouth • Back of the mouth, throat and tonsils Anyone experiencing the following problems beyond 2 weeks should consult a dental professional or seek medical attention: • White or red patches anywhere in the mouth • Mouth sore that bleeds easily and/or won’t heal • A color change in the oral tissues • Teeth that suddenly become loose • Dentures that stop fitting • Pain or difficulty swallowing/speaking • Swelling and / or lumps • Indented areas • Enlarged and/or hard lymph nodes or glands • Persistent earache Some Risk factors include: • Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless/chewing tobacco • Excessive Drinking • HPV • A lack of fruit and vegetables • Too much exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet rays), including tanning beds At home Self Examination should include: • Looking at your gums for color change, lumps, bumps or tenderness. • Pull your upper lip up and then your lower lip down and check. Gently squeeze your lips as well as your cheeks with your index finger and thumb to feel for lumps, bumps or tenderness. • Gently run your index finger over your upper and lower gums. If you find anything unusual or suspicious, report your findings to a dental or medical professional. • Look at the skin on your neck and face for any changes in color, moles that have changed, lumps or sores. • Feel both sides of your neck gently with your fingertips. • Gently place your finger over your “Adam’s Apple” and swallow. It should move up and down, not to the side. Report any hoarseness that doesn’t clear up within two weeks. • Remove any dentures or appliances from your mouth. • Check the inside of your mouth first by using a flashlight, then by putting the small mirror in your mouth, if you are able to do this. • Check the roof of your mouth for changes in color or lumps. With your index finger, gently press the roof of your mouth to feel for changes. • Examine the floor of your mouth and feel it with your index finger. Remember, you are looking for color changes, swelling and changes in shape. • With a piece of gauze between your finger and thumb, pull out your tongue and examine all sides – feel your tongue with your fingers Attached is a Diagram to help you at home. If at any time you feel you may have something that is a concern please contact the office for an exam or see your family doctor. You can never be too safe.

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