The Dentist's Role Spotting Oral Cancer
All of us have to worry about tooth decay, but after the age of 40, the risk for an even more serious condition increases dramatically: oral cancer!
Ten thousand people die from oral cancer each year, with 95% of them over the age of 40.
Cancer can strike any part of the mouth, including the lips and tongue. If the cancer is not detected early, tumors can grow deep into local tissues and spread to lymph glands in the neck. The risk for oral cancer increases with age and alcohol and tobacco use.
Be sure that at regular visits your dentist or hygienist is taking the time to detect oral cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated.
You can help, too. When brushing and flossing, check for red or white patches in your mouth. Look for tender or numb areas, sores that don't heal, and lumps or rough spots.
If you detect any of these signs or symptoms, call your dentist at once.