As part of your dental check-ups, your dentist will examine the skin on your lips and the inside of your mouth for signs of oral diseases. The most serious of these is oral cancer. There are also other diseases that your dentist can diagnose and treat.
Early detection of oral cancer can mean the difference between life and death, and its symptoms are visible to a dentist before they are noticeable to the patient. About 3400 of Canadians were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010, and about 1,150 died from it.
An oral cancer exam is one more important reason to schedule regular dental check-ups. The oral cancer exam takes only minutes and is painless.
If you are experiencing changes in your mouth like these, visit your dentist immediately.
Your dentist is also on the lookout for other diseases that affect the soft tissue of the mouth. They are not life-threatening, but can be uncomfortable. Treatments are available to alleviate the discomfort, and they’re often simple.
Hairy Tongue – the tongue appears hairy and discoloured due to an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Usually caused by poor oral hygiene, or by other treatments that can make the mouth more vulnerable to bacteria, such as antibiotics or radiation treatments.
HIV -positive patients are also prone to hairy tongue. May be treated by improving oral hygiene practices including mouthwashes, and antibiotics in some cases.
Cyst – a small fluid-filled sac that appears near the skin surface. Depending on size and location within the mouth, cysts may cause pain or difficulties with breathing or speech. The cyst may be removed surgically, usually a relatively simple procedure.
Geographic tongue – the tongue appears patchy with red rash-like areas that may be sensitive. This condition can come and go. It is harmless and seldom requires treatment. In rare cases where sensitivity is extreme, topical anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed
In our offices, we use the Velscope oral cancer screening device to aid in diagnosis towards biopsy of suspicious tissues. Visit one of our dentists in West Vancouver or North Vancouver. Our dentist can tell you what is best for your situation. Our goal is to provide personalized dental services that meet your specific needs. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or would like more information.