A trip to the dentist could save your life, the dental profession has said.
Yesterday was Mouth Cancer Awareness day and the Irish Dental Association says their members are ideally placed to spot the early signs of the disease:
“A dentist has a good light source, has a mirror and has the experience of looking at normal tissue all day, every day,” Dr Conor McAlister explained to Newstalk.
Roughly 160 people die from mouth cancer in Ireland every year - although the disease is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.
One recent mouth cancer patient was former Olympian Cathal O’Grady - who was diagnosed after a trip to the dentist.
“When the dentist first spotted the lump and asked me how it had been there. I didn’t even know I had a lump,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“There was no discomfort. When she showed it to me, I could see it then, but it didn’t cause me any concern at all.”
People who smoke and drink should be particularly sure to get checked:
“The risk factors are mainly smoking and alcohol,” Dr McAlister continued.
“And a combination of the two is particularly harmful in terms of mouth cancer. There seems to be a synergistic effect between alcohol and tobacco when it comes to this form of cancer.”
Symptoms of mouth cancer include; a sore or ulcer that does not heal for over three weeks, a swelling or lump inside your mouth or on your neck, white or red patches on your mouth or on your tongue or pain whilst swallowing or chewing.
Anyone with these symptoms should contact their GP.
Main image: A patient at the dentist. Picture by: Robert Michael/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa