This year, nearly 54,000 people in the United States will find out that they have oral cancer. You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing this disease or to increase your odds of early detection.
Today, we are sharing some tips with you as a part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
Visit Your Dentist
As part of our general dentistry, you can get an oral cancer screening when you visit us for a dental cleaning and exam. Our professionals know the signs to look for, and if we see something suspicious, we will let you know. We cannot diagnose oral cancer, but we can advise you when you should talk to your doctor.
Perform a Self-Examination
In between dental checkups, you can help yourself by becoming familiar with the symptoms of oral cancer:
- Pain or trouble swallowing, speaking, or eating
- Sores that don’t seem to get better
- Lumps, thick area, or rough spots on the soft tissues of your mouth
- Changes in how your teeth fit with each other
- Red or white patches on the soft tissues of your mouth
Avoid Risk Factors
Tobacco is the leading cause of oral cancer, so quitting or (better yet) never using it is a good start. Alcohol also can contribute to your oral cancer risk. Abstaining or limiting consumption can make a big difference. More recently HPV has been identified as a contributing factor to this kind of cancer as well. Talk to your doctor to find out if you or members of your family can get vaccinated to prevent HPV.