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When to worry about a bump, sore, or swelling in your mouth

We've all had that sinking feeling when the word 'cancer' is mentioned, and yet each year, around 7500 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed, some of which will go on to prove fatal. In most cases, mouth cancer does not cause any pain, which means that people tend to overlook the early signs and symptoms.

However, if caught in the early stages, around 90% of oral cancer cases are usually treatable, so it's a good idea to learn how to spot the signs and work with your dentist to nip any possible problems in the bud.

So when should you worry about a bump, sore, or swelling in your mouth?

The first thing to watch out for are patches of discolouration on your gums, inside cheeks, tongue or throat that are not painful but which do not heal after two weeks.

These could take the form of sores, often located on your inside cheeks or lips, that look like mouth ulcers but have a hole or depression in the middle.

White, grey or yellow marks on or under your tongue, and bright red patches at the back of your throat or on the roof of your mouth are also possible signs of precancerous cell growths, so don't ignore them.

As with lumps and bumps under the arms or near the glands, it's always best to conduct regular spot checks and see your dentist if you are at all concerned. It's worth knowing that dentists will routinely screen you for signs of mouth cancer when you go for a check-up - one more reason not to ignore that reminder card or text when it arrives! That aside, it's also a good idea to avoid tobacco products, especially ones that go into your mouth, as these have been linked to oral cancer in several studies.

The moral of the story is: if you're at all worried about a bump or discolouration in your mouth that doesn't feel right, don't ignore it - chances are that vigilance - and regular visits to the dentist - could help save your life.

Guiney Dental is a Cork dentist that prides itself on helping patients maintain their oral health, All members of the dental team go to great lengths to ensure that patients who come for check-ups feel as relaxed as possible. In fact, the practice principal, Dr Freda Guiney, has won an award for her ability to make anxious patients feel more comfortable in the dentist's chair.

If you'd like to book a dental check-up, or find out more about Guiney Dental,
visit www.guineydental.ie.


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