Cancer is a frightening word and it’s something most of us don’t want to talk about.
Additionally, a visit to the dentist can be frightening…but that fear can definitely complicate matters when it comes to the discovery and treatment of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells on any part of the mouth, lips, tongue, or gums. It can also occur on the lining of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth. Most oral cancers begin in the lining of the mouth or lips, which is made up of thin squamous cells.
Some oral cancer facts:
- Approximately 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year.
- Just over half will be alive five years later.
- Oral cancer’s high death rate is primarily due to its late discovery.
- Twice yearly dental exams and cleanings are vitally important in the early detection, prevention and treatment of oral cancer.
- If caught early, oral cancer is highly treatable.
Some of the causes of oral cancer include:
- Exposure to UV light from the sun or the use of tanning beds
- Having some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Tobacco use, in all forms – tobacco use accounts for 90% of all oral cancers
- Alcohol use
Pay attention to these symptoms of oral cancer:
- Persistent pain, tenderness, or numbness on your lips or in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing or talking
- An irritation on your mouth or lip that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
- A change in your voice that isn’t due to a cold or allergies
- Red or white spotty patches on your tongue or in your mouth
- A lump or thickening anywhere in your mouth, cheek or neck
- A thick, rough spot in your mouth that looks like it’s wearing away
To prevent oral cancer or catch it when it is treatable, it is important to have a check-up and cleaning twice a year. If it’s been awhile since your last dental visit, call to book an appointment, today: (561) 627-9000.