The latest figures on the instances of Mouth Cancer in the UK show a rise in the disease. In 2021 this treatable disease killed more than 3,000 people, an increase of 46% in the last 10 years. (Latest figures obtained by the Oral Health Foundation)
Mouth Cancer is a very treatable form of cancer when picked up early. It is difficult for patients to identify without help as it is often painless and in areas of the mouth which cannot be seen by the patient themselves. Regular visits to your dentist can help to ensure early detection. As part of a routine dental exam your dentist will screen you for any signs of oral cancer and through regular visits you will ensure any instances are caught as early as possible.
What is Mouth Cancer?
Mouth cancer, also known as Oral Cancer, refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells in various oral tissues, including the lips, tongue, palate, gums, and inner lining of the cheeks. It can develop into sore patches, lumps, or red and white patches on the gums, tongue, or other oral areas. Mouth Cancer is often painless and not visible to the individual so it’s vital that a trained professional is able to screen patients regularly. If left undetected and untreated, mouth cancer can spread to other parts of the body, potentially leading to death.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
One of the most important parts of a dentist’s role when carrying out a routine check-up is to look for signs of mouth cancer. Dentists are trained to recognise initial signs and symptoms of including suspicious growths or lesions in the mouth. During routine check-ups, dentists thoroughly examine your mouth, allowing them to identify any abnormalities and changes. By detecting mouth cancer early, dentists can promptly refer patients to specialists for further evaluation, including a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
How is Mouth Cancer Treated?
Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. These are most effective when cancer is caught early, potentially saving lives, and minimizing the need for invasive procedures.
What are the Causes of Mouth Cancer?
Like most cancers, there is no clear cause. Several factors can increase an individual’s risk of getting mouth cancer. These include:
- Alcohol Use
- Excessive Sun Exposure
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- A weakened immune system
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- A family history of oral cancer.
Regular dental visits can assist in assessing these risk factors and informing patients about necessary lifestyle modifications that can help prevent oral cancer.
Finding a Routine Dentist?
Finding a routine dentist is difficult. As a private family-run dental provider, we offer regular routine care at an affordable price. A routine check-up costs just £65. At this visit the dentist will:
- Take appropriate routine x-rays
- Check your jaw joints
- Looks at your occlusion (bite)
- Assess you for any infections, including your tongue and gums
- Check for Oral Cancer by feeling for lumps in the jaw, neck, and throat
- Record measurements of your gums to assess for gum disease
- Examine your teeth for caries (tooth decay)
- Offer oral health advice, tailored to you
We recommend regular hygiene appointments. Good dental hygiene reduces the long-term need for expensive treatments. Hygienists will also look for any visible signs of mouth cancer which gives you added security between your routine dental exams.
What to Do If You Think You Have Mouth Cancer?
There is no national screening programme for mouth cancer so if you think you have signs of it, you should book a dental appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to check your mouth and gums. If they find anything concerning, they can refer you to a specialist.
What if I Cannot Afford to See a Dentist Privately?
We know it is a struggle to find a routine NHS dentist but there is still a way of seeing an NHS dentist when you have a concern. At our Duthie Dental Practice on Woolton Road we offer an “Urgent Care Clinic” every Thursday morning. You do not have to be a registered patient at the practice to attend. Simply call 0151 722 2642 or contact us online to secure an appointment (this clinic is by appointment only so please only come to the practice if you have a pre-booked appointment).