More than just a pretty face

Did you know your dentist and your dental surgery can offer you so much more than just looking after your teeth and gums? At Orpington Dental Care, we take your oral health seriously and for this reason we offer additional services that ensure you and your family are taken care of.

Mouth Cancer Screening in OrpingtonMost people are aware of the link between smoking and cancer, and because of the increase in mouth cancer incidents we offer you information and support as you cut down or stop smoking altogether.

Smoking and its effects on your teeth

The chemicals in cigarettes damage the health of your teeth and gums in many ways. Smoking actually damages the cells of your gums making them prone to infections and diseases. Without healthy gums your teeth are undermined, leading to the possibility of tooth loss and decay. In addition, the nicotine and tar in your cigarettes stain your teeth and cause bad breath, and can also lead to jawbone loss, shrinking gums, mouth sores, decreased sense of taste and smell and poor healing of your mouth. Overall, smoking’s not great for your health and is one of the key indicators for cancer.

In Orpington, mouth cancer screening is available to you and your family.

We offer a yearly screening for mouth cancer for all our patients. If you have or are giving up smoking, it’s vital that you attend your screening and ensure that the health of your mouth and gums are normal.

When you attend your screening, your dentist will give a thorough examination of your mouth, throat and around your tongue. Using a handheld device, they will assess your health and look out for any abnormalities, so we can then provide you with swift treatment or refer you on if this is needed.

You can ask Dr Loubser any questions about smoking cessation and your yearly mouth cancer screening. She is dedicated to your oral health and ensuring all our patients receive the best dental care. If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this blog, call our reception for an appointment. At Orpington Dental Care you don’t have to worry, we put you at the centre of our practice.

Why mouth cancer screening is important

Your overall health is affected by your oral health, which is why it is really important to visit your dentist regularly for dental check-ups. While cavities, plaque, and gum disease are common problems that you might experience if you are not careful with your oral health, you also run the risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer tends to be painless and many patients overlook the symptoms. However, if detected early, oral cancer is curable with a significantly improved recovery rate over later detections.

Mouth Cancer Screening in OrpingtonAt Orpington Dental Care, we urge our patients to visit the dental practice for a mouth cancer screening as soon as they notice something wrong with their mouth or throat. Ideally, the screening should be performed at least once a year or more frequently if you are at higher risk of developing oral cancer. The screening process is painless and very quick.

Who can get oral cancer?

Though generally, people who smoke or drink excessively are at higher risk of developing oral cancer, anyone can be at risk. New findings also suggest that while most oral cancers are diagnosed in people aged 45 and over, younger patients are also at risk due to complications caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.

What are the warning signs?

Oral cancer can occur anywhere in or around the mouth including the tongue, lips, cheeks, palates, sinuses and the throat. The signs and symptoms of oral cancer typically mean it is already developed and you are running out of time to treat it effectively. These include white patches in your mouth, bleeding that is not related to gum disease, swelling, lumps, bumps, spots and sores on the face and the neck that do not heal. Your dentist will examine your face, mouth and throat thoroughly and determine whether any of these symptoms are related to oral cancer. Sometimes the issue can be something entirely unrelated, and sometimes it can be oral cancer. However, any of these symptoms warrant a visit to the dentist to request a mouth cancer screening.

By making it a point to visit your dentist regularly, you make it easier for oral cancer and other dental problems to be identified and treated at an early stage.

Mouth Cancer Screening

We know that cancer is a scary word. Cases of mouth cancer are on the rise and, like any form of cancer, early detection vastly increases the chances of making a full recovery. That’s why we undertake mouth cancer screening as standard during your regular dental check-ups.

mouth cancer screeningAs dentists we have the experience and equipment to spot the early stages of mouth cancer, even before you may have noticed anything yourself. However, if you do find anything suspicious between your regular check-ups, please make an appointment to see us straight away. Remember: the earlier mouth cancer is spotted, the better your chances of recovery are.

Symptoms of mouth cancer include:

  • Lumps in the mouth, tongue or throat
  • Red or white patches in the mouth or throat
  • Ulcers which do not heal
  • Persistent mouth pain or pain/problems swallowing
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • Changes to speech or voice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Problems moving the jaw
  • Bleeding/numbness in the mouth
  • Teeth that become loose for no obvious reason

Should you notice any of these signs, or anything else suspicious, book an appointment straight away. One of our dentists will carry out a thorough examination of the whole of your mouth, using a special hand-held device to scan any lesions or lumps they may find. This helps to highlight any risk factors; if we do find anything suspicious, we will refer you to a hospital consultant for further investigation.

In many cases, anything we find may be benign. However, because of late detection, mouth cancers have a higher number of deaths per number of cases than the more widely publicised conditions breast cancer, cervical cancer or skin melanoma. Currently there about 2,700 deaths from mouth cancer in the UK every year.

For more information about mouth cancer, including diagnosis, treatment and support groups, please visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation website.