April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we would like to encourage you to visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening. In the United States, 132 new people will be diagnosed with oral cancer every day and one person each hour of the day will die from the disease.
Lifestyle is a major contributor to the disease. Those who smoke and use tobacco are at risk, including the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco, and heavy use of alcohol can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer. The fastest-growing population of oral cancer patients are young, healthy non-smoking individuals associated with the HPV virus.
How to check
Wondering how to obtain a oral cancer screening? Schedule your next dental visit and we will check for oral cancer as part of your routine check-up and cleaning. During your appointment the dentist will visually check your teeth, gums lips and face for any signs. They will also check the areas around your neck and jaw, and check the top and bottom of your tongue for symptoms.
In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see their dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks. Common symptoms include:
- Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- The feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
- Numbness, pain or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
- Pain in one of your ears but without any loss of hearing
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
(Check out this guide to self-examination for more info.)
Prevention is key for fighting oral cancer, schedule an appointment with us today to learn more.