So why do we look under your tongue and around your cheeks, lips and soft tissues of your mouth?  Oral cancers are a very rare form of cancer, but they are quite debilitating.  They occur much more frequently in people who smoke and the same will apply with vapes.  Smoking increases your risk of oral cancer by about 75%.  The chemical compounds in vapes are just as much of an issue as cigarette/cigar smoke or betel nut chewing.  More research is required though to confirm our suspicions about vaping.  Even for people who don’t smoke or vape or chew these products can develop oral cancer.

Oral cancers can occur commonly on the lips and are often related to sun exposure. Care in the sun will reduce the likelihood of these occurring.  We all know the jingle – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide!  We should also probably add Sip to hydrate as well to keep your lips moisture content up as added protection.  And that sip should be water!

Tongue cancers are difficult to see and that is why we pull your tongue around while looking at it.  Cancers in the floor of your mouth and on your cheeks are easier to spot.  In all soft tissue cancers of the mouth we are looking for red parts and white parts that shouldn’t be there.  But how can you tell as your tongue has lots of red and white bits?  For us it will look different from the normal red and white bits.

If we have any concerns we will refer you to an oral surgeon, or oral medicine specialist.  We will take an intraoral photo of the site and send that photo and any other xrays direct to the specialist.  Often this referral happens very quickly as oral cancers are notorious for being fast growing.  You might not leave the clinic with an appointment for the specialist but once they have the emailed referral and photos they will contact you straight away.  We will also send you to see these specialists if you have an ulcer that is not healing as fast as it should.

In most cases the specialist will have a consultation with you, have a look, do a biopsy and it all turns out that the lesion is not an oral cancer.  Wahoo!  That is a great result!  If it is oral cancer then you will see both the specialist and probably an oncologist to determine the best course of treatment.

So how do you reduce your risk of soft tissue oral cancers?

  • Regular dental visits for a comprehensive examination of your teeth, lips, mouth and gums.
  • Stop smoking or vaping or chewing tobacco or tobacco like products
  • Healthy diet
  • Good oral health care – brushing and flossing
  • Limit amount of alcohol you drink
  • Practice safe oral sex

See you in the clinic!  The Adelaide City Dental Care Team. PS:  check out our socials (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) for top tips for teeth, mouth and gums and dental family snaps!  Maybe even the latest video on YouTube.

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