April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to learn about oral cancer and how to prevent it! According to research, oral cancer makes up 3% of the cancers diagnosed every year in the United States.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer forms anywhere in your mouth, including on your lips, teeth, gums, cheeks, tongue, under your tongue, and on the roof of your mouth. Common signs and symptoms include:
- White or red patches of skin on your tongue, gums, or cheek lining
- Mouth or lip sores that won’t heal
- Lumps in your mouth or neck
- Jaw and neck swelling
- Pain, numbness, or bleeding in your mouth
- Painful swallowing or chewing
Only a healthcare professional can diagnose cancer. Oral cancer screenings are included in a routine checkup at the dentist. It’s important to visit us for regular cleanings and exams and notify us if you notice any of these warning signs between your appointments. During your screening, our team will thoroughly check your tongue, gums, cheeks, and throat. We will recommend further testing if we spot something concerning.
What Are the Risk Factors for Oral cCncer?
Certain factors increase your risk for developing oral cancer. These factors include excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and excessive exposure to UV light without sun protection. HPV infection, poor oral hygiene, and a weakened immune system may also increase your risk.
Can You Prevent Oral Cancer?
Smoking, chewing tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption (especially when they’re combined) are the biggest risk factors for oral cancer. Significantly reduce your chances of a cancer diagnosis by cutting back or quitting entirely! You can also safeguard your health by wearing sunscreen, a hat, lip balm, and sunglasses when you’re outside in the sun. Additionally, maintain good oral hygiene every day and routinely visit the dentist for preventive cleanings and checkups.
Regular Oral Cancer Screenings in Arlington, VA
Early detection is key, which is why we always perform an oral cancer screening during your routine checkup! We can also catch issues other than cancer during this appointment. If you have questions about oral cancer or want to schedule an appointment with our team at Ballston Dental Care, please contact us today!