Oral health is more than just taking care of your teeth, and there are many other reasons why you should visit your dental professional regularly even if you wear complete dentures and have no remaining natural teeth.
So apart from tooth decay, gum disease one of the most important things in your oral health checkup is screening for oral cancer. Like with most types of cancer early detection can save lives! So this is important especially for complete denture patients that may not visit their dental practice regularly.
Symptoms to look out for:
Mouth ulcers that don’t heal or have persisted for several weeks.
- Unknown lumps and bumps in the mouth that won’t go away
- Unexplained lose teeth or extracted tooth sockets that do not heal.
- Numbness – in the lip, tongue or any of the soft tissues.
- Discolouration – white or red patches anywhere in the mouth.
- changes in speech.
So if you notice anything unusual, go and see your doctor or dentist. Chances are it’s probably not serious, but it’s worthwhile getting it checked just in case.
The risk of developing oral cancer is increased by smoking or chewing tobacco, the consumption of alcohol or by contracting the HPV (the human papillomavirus) that causes genital warts.
Oral Thrush (Candida Albicans)
Oral thrush occurs when a yeast infection develops on the inside of your mouth and on your tongue. This condition is also known as oropharyngeal candidiasis.
This can be quite common for denture wearers that do not remove their dentures at night.
Oral thrush is typically a mild infection that rarely causes complications. However, the condition can be problematic for those with weakened immune systems.
In its initial stages, oral thrush may not cause any symptoms. However, as time passes and the fungus continues to grow, the following symptoms may develop:
- creamy white bumps on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, or tonsils
- slight bleeding when the bumps are scraped
- pain at the site of the bumps
- dry, cracked skin at the corners of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
You might get thrush if you’re:
- taking antibiotics over a long time
- using asthma inhalers
- getting cancer treatment like chemotherapy
Coated Tongue (Hairy Tongue)
This is usually a white coating on the dorsum of the tongue which is often associated with smoking. This can be treated with a tongue scraper and is not normally something to worry about.
Black hairy tongue may sound scary, but the condition is harmless. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue appear black and hairy. It’s easily remedied by good old-fashioned oral hygiene.
“Geographic tongue” (Benign migratory glossitis).
The cause of geographic tongue is unknown. This is not considered a serious condition and presents no symptoms and is not linked to cancer.
Oral lichen planus
Oral lichen planus is an ongoing (chronic) inflammatory condition that affects mucous membranes inside your mouth. Oral lichen planus may appear as white, lacy patches; red, swollen tissues; or open sores. These lesions may cause burning, pain or other discomfort.
Oral lichen planus can’t be passed from one person to another. The disorder occurs when the immune system mounts an attack against cells of the oral mucous membranes for unknown reasons (autoimmune disorder).
Symptoms can usually be managed with medication, but the symptoms need to be monitored as there may be a risk of developing oral cancer.