Did you know that roughly 54,000 cases of oral cancer are estimated to be diagnosed this year in the US alone? Even though this condition is prominent, most people aren’t generally aware of the specifics and how to handle it. To help you understand more about oral cancer and how to keep yourself safe, here are the risk factors, signs to look out for, and the importance of seeing your dentist for regular screenings.
What Are the Risk Factors of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer doesn’t discriminate between different ethnicities or backgrounds. That said, several factors have been associated with a heightened risk of developing this problem. These include::
- Unprotected sun exposure
- Using tobacco products
- Overindulging in alcoholic beverages
- The Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Age (older people have a higher chance of developing oral cancer)
- Gender (men have a higher probability of getting this condition than women)
7 Indications of Oral Cancer to Watch Out For
Knowing the typical symptoms of oral cancer is incredibly important for ensuring you seek professional attention as soon as possible. These are also signs that are monitored during early preventive treatments. Here are several indications to look out for:
- Tenderness or numbness on your lips or in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing, moving your tongue, or swallowing
- Red or white patches on your soft oral tissue (like tongue, gums, and lining of your mouth)
- A sore that won’t go away on its own
- A lump or rough spot in your mouth
- The feeling that something is stuck in your throat
- A noticeable change in your bite
The Significance of Scheduling Regular Dental Checkups
Since some of the signs of oral cancer can be minimal or even go unnoticed until it’s too late, it’s crucial that you regularly visit your dentist for early-detection screenings. These biannual visits can help them monitor your oral health, which includes checking your tongue, the floor of your mouth, and the back of your throat for indications of oral cancer. The process is typically performed during your dental checkup, so you may not even notice that they’re looking for any common symptoms. Should they detect an issue, they can inform you and help arrange for a biopsy as well as additional testing.
Now that you know the common risk factors and symptoms of oral cancer, you can be well-informed and more motivated to reduce your chances by seeking dental care routinely. Speak with your dentist if you have any concerns, and they’ll be glad to help you maintain a healthy smile!
About the Author
Dr. Eric Buck is passionate about delivering the highest quality dental care his patients deserve. He’s a member of multiple organizations, such as the Ohio Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry, and regularly seeks continuing education to refine his skills. He offers a wide range of services, including oral cancer screenings. If you want to know more about the risks of this condition or wish to schedule a checkup, visit his website or call him at 740-725-8000.