As part of your dental check-ups, your dentist examines 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.
Signs of oral cancer:
- lumps or change in texture on mouth or tongue
- bleeding, numbness or sores that don’t heal
- white or dark red patches on mouth or lips
If you are experiencing changes in your mouth like these, visit your dentist immediately.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line