Going beyond checking for cavities

Scheduled visits to the dentist are more than just checking for cavities and  routine cleaning. Dentists like Dr. Baker and their professional teams are at the forefront of recognizing and preventing oral cancer. More than 51,500 people are diagnosed with the disease every year and it claims nearly 10,000 lives.

There are many factors that contribute to the cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils and tongue. While oral cancer traditionally afflicts older men (50 and older) who indulge in tobacco (pipe and smokeless) and excessive drinking, the disease is also being seen in younger adults as a result of the virus HPV16.

April is oral cancer awareness month. While a professional checkup is the best way to detect oral cancer, contact your dental care provider if you experience any of these signs and symptoms:

  • Any mouth sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched.
  • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
  • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually border of the tongue.
  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, does not heal.
  • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.

The signs and symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer are a bit different and can go on for longer than two-three weeks and may include one or more of the following:

  • Hoarseness or sore throat.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
  • Constant coughing that does not resolve.
  • Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
  • An earache on one side that persists for more than a few days.

April is oral cancer month awareness month and while COVID-19 has disrupted our typical routine, Dr. Baker and the Smiles by Baker team in Shelby Township want you to know they remain steadfast in providing clients any dental assistance they can during this time. Please call the office at (586)-992-9222 with any concerns.

Sources: Oral Cancer Foundation, American Dental Association.