Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, it is important to set aside a few minutes to regularly check your gums, tongue, and mouth for any abnormalities. It is especially important to perform these routine checks if your family has a history with oral cancers. Take the time to perform these 5 oral self-examinations at home because you never know, what takes only a minute could save your life.
1. Examine your tongue for anything strange in appearance, such as darker spots. Next, touch the tip of your tongue to the top of your mouth. Examine the underside of your tongue and the pallet under the tongue. Both should be consistent in surface and shading.
2. Examine the top of your mouth, feeling with your tongue or fingertips. To make this easier, tilt your head backwards and check the roof of your mouth for color or texture changes on the surface.
3. Visually examine your cheeks using a mirror and lifting cheeks outward. Look for discoloration, and shaded splotches. Next, examine the gums of your cheek. With one finger resting on gums and one outside of the cheek, use a circular pinch motion to examine for sensitivity or masses.
4. Examine your neck and head for unevenness, bulging, or swelling. Applying moderate pressure, slide your fingertips around your neck, jaw line, and lymph nodes.
5. Examine your lips for any extreme changes in color or persistent sores, lesions, blisters, ulcers, and lumps. Note: sores are not always an indication of lip cancer. Since the lips are prominent and visible, lesions can be seen and identified easily. This allows for early diagnosis.
To prevent oral cancers, avoid smoking cigarettes and tobacco, reduce your alcohol consumption, minimize sun exposure, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and wear an SPF lip balm. If you are interested in learning more about oral cancer awareness, consult with Dr. Tedford or primary healthcare physician.
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