At each patient’s regular cleaning and exam, Dr. Heinle along with our Hygienists will perform a thorough Oral Cancer Screening. This visual and tactile exam includes lips, cheek lining, gum condition, your tongue, the floor of your mouth along with the roof of your mouth. Dr. Heinle will be closely looking for the six possible signs of oral cancer:
- A sore or irritation that isn’t getting better
- Red or white patches on your tissues
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- Any lumps, thickening, rough spot, crust or eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
If Dr. Heinle is suspicious of an area, he will have you return for a follow-up exam in a couple of weeks. If further testing is needed, he will work with you and one of the many well qualified oral surgeons in our area to diagnose any conditions and work together on a treatment plan.
Preventing oral cancer is knowing the risk factors – and a full oral exam at least twice a year.
Risk factors are:
- Gender – men are more likely to develop oral cancer
- Age – people over the age of 44 are more likely to show signs of oral cancer
- Tobacco use – smoking increases your risk of oral cancer dramatically. Cigarettes, pipes, and Chewing tobacco all can cause cancer of the cheeks, tongue, lips and gums
- Alcohol use – heavy drinking can cause oral cancers. In fact 7 out of 10 people that have ora Cancer are heavy drinkers
- HPV – Human papillomavirus – This sexually transmitted disease is now linked to oral cancers mainly in younger non-smokers. These patients usually have a lower risk or terminal oral cancer.
- Sunlight – Sunshine is essential to overall good health and wellness but too much exposure can cause cancers of the lips especially to patients who work outside. Wear UV protection!
- Diet – a nutrition poor diet, usually one that lacks fruits & vegetables, can cause oral cancers. Veggies and fruits are more than healthy for you – they’re delicious too!!