April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
By Ann R. Sielicki, DDS on April 21, 2019
Despite these disturbing statistics, there is some good news: when detected early, oral cancer is highly treatable. In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Scottsdale dental practice Sonoran Dental Design reveals common signs of oral cancer and discusses the importance of regular oral cancer screenings.
Oral Cancer Explained
Oral cancer is divided into two categories: those occurring in the oral cancer cavity (the lips, inside lining of the lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, and the hard palates) and those that occur in the oropharynx (the middle region of the throat, the back third of the tongue, the soft palate, tonsils and the side and back walls of the throat).
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The following factors can increase your risk of developing oral cancer:
- Smoking and other forms of tobacco use
- Heavy tobacco consumption
- Unprotected UV exposure
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- Age (individuals age 55 and older have a higher risk of oral cancer)
Common Oral Cancer Symptoms
Common signs of oral cancer include:
- White or red spots, sores or patches anywhere in the mouth
- Sores that bleed easily or do not heal
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or on the lips
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Loose teeth
- Swelling of the jaw
The Importance of Regular Screenings
Oral cancer usually begins with very little visual symptoms, which is why we recommend routine screenings with a dental professional. Oral cancer screenings are performed at the time of a routine dental exam. During the screening, the dentist checks for changes in the head, face, neck, tongue, throat and jaw. If an abnormality is detected, the dentist will take a small biopsy so it can be analyzed for clinical diagnosis.
To schedule a routine dental exam and oral cancer screening, please contact us or email our Scottsdale dental practice today.
“Dr. Sielicki and her staff are professional and I immediately felt comfortable. My teeth look fantastic. I could not be more pleased with the outcome.” Emily