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124 W. Main St., Union, MO 63084

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Dr. Edwards' Blog

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month -- April 16, 2018

Here at Optima Dental Group, we take oral cancer checkups very seriously.  We screen every adult patient for symptoms that could indicate cervical spine issues, issues with head and neck muscles and lymph nodes, the thyroid area and of course -- oral cancer.

Here are the people most at risk:

  • Those who use tobacco of any kind
  • Those who abuse alcohol
  • Those who suffer excessive sun exposure to their lips
  • People with weakened immune systems

    Below are some images of what we look for in our screenings.

       Cancer can appear different depending on where it is located. The photo on the left is that of a patient who has cancer o the lip.  The center image shows white patches on the back of the mouth, and the image on the right shows red sores near one of the molars -- all of these are cencerous.  These growths often show up on the lips, cheeks, tongue, roof or floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate and tonsils.  Other symptoms can include:
  • unexplained bleeding
  • unexplained weight loss
  • numbness of the neck, mouth, or face
  • a feeling that something is stuck in the back of the throat
  • dryness in the throat or a prolonged sore throat
  • change in voice
  • ear pain
  • trouble biting, gulping, talking, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • change in the way your dentures or teeth fit together

If you have any of these symptoms that won't go away for two weeks, contact your doctor or dentist for a professional diagnosis. The most common thing for a patient to say when presenting with these lesions or sores is," Oh, I have always had that" or "I've had that for a long time."

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer than women.  It’s also rare for people under the age of 40 to have oral cancer.  But if you have an unexplained symptom like those I mentioned above, don't wait.  It may be nothing serious, but don't take any chances. 

Oral cancer is very curable if caught early so don't delay.  Call our office now for an emergency exam, consultation or your regular hygiene appointment where the doctor will perform a head and neck exam. 

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