April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Close to 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. Oral cancer can affect the entire mouth, lips, throat, and tongue. It is known to be one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
However, with proper screenings and good oral health, we can help you catch any signs of early cancer before they become a serious problem. So what are the symptoms and risk factors of oral cancer? We are here to talk to give you all that information today.
One of the reasons that oral cancer is not found until it is in the later stages is that it is asymptomatic (without symptoms) in its earlier stages. However, there are some changes you can keep an eye on in your oral health that can help in identifying oral cancer. If you start to notice any of the following symptoms, you should give your local Lindale dentist a call to schedule a visit for a screening:
- A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
- Discoloration of the tissues in your mouth
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in mouth or lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
Some people are naturally at higher risk for developing oral cancer. Those who smoke tobacco or drink alcohol put themselves at a higher risk. Men are also are twice as likely to develop this cancer as women. People who are older than the age of 55 or with a weakened immune system are also more likely to develop oral cancer.
Overall oral health has also been shown to impact oral cancer risk. This is due to the change in the normal bacteria in the mouth. It is important to practice good oral health year-round to ensure that you lower your risk of developing this disease.
The risk for oral cancer can be increased by developing other dental diseases and conditions. Your risk is increased up to 2.5 times if you have periodontal disease, and 60 times higher if you have 6 or more missing teeth. This is why practicing good oral care is so important. By simply following tips like brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and visiting your dentist twice a year for your dental cleaning, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
At the Center for Implant and General Dentistry, we offer an oral cancer screening with every dental cleaning. We find not only your dental health important but your overall health as well. If you ever find yourself with any of the oral cancer symptoms or aren’t quite sure, we are always here to help. Give us a call to schedule your next dental cleaning and oral cancer screening (903) 231-6605.