Early detection of oral cancer is key

(NC) Most oral cavity cancers can be treated if discovered early. Dental hygienists provide oral cancer screenings at each appointment and will make referrals to specialists if they spot anything unusual.

Between appointments, we all have a role to play by watching for any of the following changes in our mouths:

• Alterations to the colour or texture of gums, cheeks or tongue• Mouth lumps or sores that do not heal within 14 days

• Chronic sore throat or cough

• Difficulty swallowing

• Lumps in the neck, including those that aren't bothersome

• Mouth or ear pain

Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, sun exposure to the lips, and the human papillomavirus are all known risk factors for oral cavity cancers. By modifying our lifestyle, ensuring that our children receive the HPV vaccine, examining our mouths for suspicious changes, and scheduling regular dental hygiene visits, we can reduce our risk of illness.