In the year 2021, it is estimated that 54,010 adults will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States. Out of the 54,010 people diagnosed, 38,800 will be men and 15,210 will be women, with the chances of having oral cancer twice as high for men in comparison to women.
As we move into April, dental associations across the nation observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month. We want to stress the importance of going to regular oral cancer screenings and learning how to self-check in between dental visits. Early detection saves lives!
Today, your dedicated dentists at WhiteWing Dental in McAllen, TX, will go over everything you need to know about oral cancer.
The Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
There are several factors that can make your likelihood of developing oral cancer greater than others, including:
- Tobacco use of any kind
- Heavy alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure to your lips
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having human papillomavirus (HPV)
It is critical to pay close attention to your oral health at all times and even closer attention if you believe that you fall into one of the risk factors.
Knowing the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
Being aware of the warning signs of oral cancer is extremely crucial when it comes to getting the treatment you need quickly. Some of the warning signs of oral cancer are as follows:
- A sore on your lip or your mouth that doesn’t heal
- A white or red patch on the inside of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A lump or growth inside your mouth
- Mouth or ear pain
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended to see a dentist due to the fact that oral cancer can spread at a rapid rate and be harmful if not detected early on.
How Your Dentist Detects Oral Cancer
During your dental visit, your dentist will ask if you’ve noticed any changes in your oral health. You can expect to have your oral cavity examined, which includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of your mouth, and the roof of your mouth.
Your dentist will also examine your throat, tonsils, the back section of your tongue, and where your tongue attaches at the back of your mouth. After this, they will feel your jaw and neck for any abnormalities.
If your dentist notices anything suspicious, stay calm, whether they recommend allowing the issue to heal on its own or if they recommend additional testing.
How to Prevent Oral Cancer
Becoming familiar with the risk factors of oral cancer is the first step in being able to prevent it. If you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or have a poor diet, the first thing you can do is change these habits to decrease your chance of developing oral cancer.
You should also make sure to monitor your health if you have had cancer before since it would make you more likely to develop it again.
Don’t wait to get your oral cancer screening. Let Oral Cancer Awareness month be your sign to visit WhiteWing Dental today!
The next time you stop by WhiteWing Dental, you can rest assured knowing that our dental professionals are ready to give you the quality dental care you deserve.