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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral cancer is something the team at Lockhart Dentistry in Indianapolis, IN doesn’t take lightly. Any patient can be at risk—not just those who smoke, use tobacco products or drink alcohol excessively. In fact, as per WebMD, more than 25% of all cases of oral cancer occur in non-smokers and those who are occasional drinkers. It is important to be screened for oral cancer regularly because the first signs of something being wrong may not be detectable by the naked eye and there may be no indication that there is anything to worry about, such as pain,pressure, bleeding, sores, etc.Woman getting teeth cleaning

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 53,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer this year in the U.S.  Additionally, one person every hour of every day will die from oral cancer. Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, being well-educated on the topic is not only timely, but could save your life. Here is what you need to know about oral cancer, from the symptoms to the solutions.

Where can oral cancer be found?

Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth. This includes the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, hard palate/soft palate, floor of the mouth, sinuses, and the throat.

Are there any symptoms to look out for?

There are a variety of symptoms that can indicate signs of oral cancer. While the very first signs may not be easily spotted, later stages are more evident. Here at Lockhart Dentistry, we emphasize the importance of early detection, and use high-tech devices to locate any early signs of oral cancer. (More information about our use of VELscope® technology below).

While your exam at the office will provide in-depth screening, there are more obvious indications that oral cancer may be developing and growing. If you notice any of the below symptoms*, contact our office right away so we can assess what’s going on and if the issue is, in fact, a symptom of cancer.

  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Swellings, lumps, crusty areas, rough spots, thickened areas, or erosion inside the mouth
  • Red and white patches inside the mouth
  • Pain, soreness, tenderness, or numbness
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Persistent sore throat or sensation that something is stuck in the throat
  • Issues with chewing/swallowing
  • Problems speaking
  • Problems moving the tongue or jaw
  • Hoarseness or other vocal changes
  • Shift in bite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Ear pain


Why is early screening important, and what will my screening entail?

Early screening is essential. The sooner the cancer is detected, the sooner the treatment can begin. If caught early on, the better the chance of removal, remission, and survival. When left to linger, the growth can spread to other areas of the mouth or further throughout the body. Make it your mission to be screened regularly at your dentist’s recommended intervals, and always check your mouth in the mirror, even if you don’t feel or notice anything strange.

During your dental exam, Dr. Lockhart will inspect the inside of your mouth completely, as well as feel for any lumps or irregularities. But not every case can be seen with the naked eye. That’s where our use of VELscope® comes in. This painless and quick process is revolutionary in how it can spot signs of cancer with powerful precision. The VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System is a wireless scope that allows dentists to view oral abnormalities with great enhancement by way of natural tissue fluorescence. This award-winning device makes screenings far more efficient and effective as it allows Dr. Lockhart to spot anything suspicious, he would not have otherwise seen.

How is oral cancer treated?

Once the cells in question are biopsied and confirmed to be cancerous, there are various courses of action to consider depending upon the issue and severity. Generally speaking, the growth will be surgically removed. If needed, the patient will receive radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two. Follow up exams will be crucial to keep up with, in order to watch for any signs of recurrence.

To prevent oral cancer, consider proactive measures to lower your risk. Refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. Protect your lips with lip balms containing sunscreen. Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Get screened. Stay on top of your overall oral care. Perform an examination of your own mouth and if you see something, share with your dentist as soon as you can. While April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, every day is a chance for you to practice self-care. It doesn’t take very long to inspect your mouth. Do it before or after brushing, while you are already focused on the area. Your mindful observation can be the key to early detection.

If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, discuss them with Indianapolis dentist Dr. Lockhart at your next appointment or give us a call at (317) 849-9715.


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  • 8202 Clearvista Parkway, Suite 4C, Indianapolis, IN 46256


  • Gerald B.
    “Approximately 4:45 p.m., a crown came completely out. I immediately called Dr. Lockhart’s office to see if he was available. He was so 15 minutes later; I walked into his office. I was seen immediately; the tooth was prepped and recemented. Less than a half-hour after the tooth came out, it was back in, and I was on my way to the Pacer game. Great job!”
    Gerald B.
  • Steve E.
    “I’ve had several teeth extracted, and can say unequivocally this was the easiest one to date. The tooth was out before I knew it, no muss, no fuss.”
    Steve E.
  • Jessica C.
    “I am never disappointed with Dr. Lockhart’s service. I have been seeing him for my dental care for a few years now and it seems that my dental health has only improved since I began seeing him. I value how straight forward and honest he is with his patients. I would recommend him to everyone!”
    Jessica C.
  • Linda A.
    “Everyone is professional and so friendly. They take the time to explain the procedures, and make you feel very comfortable in a very relaxed atmosphere. If you don’t like going to a dentist for whatever reason, I suggest you try Dr. Lockhart!”
    Linda A.
  • Karen P.
    “At the doctor’s recommendation, an old silver filling was replaced with enamel. This accomplished two things. It provided an opportunity to assess the health of the tooth-as it is a deep and old filling. And secondly it improved the visual of the mouth by having a filling material which blends with the tooth color. Though no further care is needed at this time, it is valuable to know what may be necessary going forward which eliminates the dreaded element of surprise in dental care. Dr. Lockhart and his staff create a comfortable, caring environment which puts the patient at ease while undergoing what might otherwise be an anxiety filled procedure. All aspects of the office visit were professional, efficient and most important of all – painless.”
    Karen P.
  • Joseph O.
    “Great environment, courteous friendly and professional staff. I look forward to my dental visits because Danelle is welcoming and focused on my dental health and Dr Lockhart is always attentive and clear in his care and explanations.”
    Joseph O.
  • Heather B.
    “Above and beyond! Our son broke off a tooth on A Tuesday evening. Dr. Lockhart and his staff are not scheduled to be in the office on Wednesdays. We nevertheless called the emergency number he provided first thing Wednesday morning. Dr. Lockhart promptly returned our call and we made arrangements to meet at the office. Dr. Lockhart was very thorough with his examination. He and McKenzie took great care of our son and got him fixed up. Always the highest level of care and customer service. THANK YOU!”
    Heather B.
  • Anne M.
    “I highly recommend Lockhart Dentistry to all my friends. After 30 years I finally made the decision to get crowns and braces. In less then 6 months, my treatment is over and I can smile with confidence. Thank you Dr. Lockhart, and your wonderful staff. I truly wonder why I waited so long!”
    Anne M.
  • Kyle C.
    “Always a great and efficient visit. Extremely caring and have seen amazing progress for not being in a long time!”
    Kyle C.
  • Lawrence M.
    “Great dentistry ! Top notch all around.“
    Lawrence M.
  • Gregg J.
    “Experience and Tech Savvy. Dr Lockhart has more experience and is more technologically savvy than any dentist I’ve been to in my 54 years.”
    Gregg J.
  • Cassie R.
    “Happy to have found a dentist in my neighborhood for my entire family!”
    Cassie R.
  • Don G.
    “Nice place to visit but don’t want to live there. I generally do not like surveys or questionnaires and am only answering this one because I like you.”
    Don G.
  • Linda M.
    “When I think of Lockhart Dentistry, the terms “kindness, promptness, professionalism, and effectiveness” come to mind.”
    Linda M.
  • Thomas H.
    “Lockhart Dentistry is a step above all others. Great enthusiastic staff that genuinely enjoy their jobs. Ingrid goes out of her way to make sure each visit is enjoyable and she is very thorough in explaining what she is doing throughout my examination. Every appointment I have had has been on schedule, very little time spent waiting in lobby, which is very important to me from a work and family perspective. I like the fact that they have email and text reminders too!!!”
    Thomas H.
  • Clarence H.
    “Best Long Term Dental Care. My wife and I have been patients of Dr. Lockhart for over 20 years. From routine bi-annual cleanings and checkups to implants, crowns and partial bridges that I’ve had through the years; Dr. Lockhart and his team have always provided the very best of care.”
    Clarence H.
  • Dee B.
    "Highly recommend! I’ve been. With Dr Lockhart 25+ years….since he was at 71st and Shadeland. I had some serious issues that Dr Lockhart and his staff have helped me overcome. I can’t say enough great things about them (I even got my husband to join me there). Thank you so much to Lockhart Dentistry."
    Dee B.
  • Joan M.
    Routine 6 month cleaning and check. Have been a patient of Lockhart Dentistry since Doc came to Indianapolis. The entire staff is friendly and caring and works hard to make sure you are comfortable no matter what service is being provided.
    Joan M.
  • Nicole B.
    "Great place, people are friendly and very nice. Dr. Lockhart always has an alternative or solution to my issues. I love Danielle! I always ask for her to do my cleaning. My teeth always feel extra clean."
    Nicole B.
  • Laurie P.
    Wonderful experience! Very thorough and friendly!
    Laurie P.
  • Deborah W.
    "Dr. Bruce and his staff are amazing, kind, very caring. They take care of you like one of their own!"
    Deborah W.