When most people think about their oral health, they’re concerned with avoiding cavities and keeping their gums healthy. They brush their teeth twice daily and floss once a day without realizing there’s something else that’s cause for concern. This serious condition may develop with no symptoms, or the cause of the symptoms is attributed to something else. Early detection is vital in fighting this problem, so you need to know what to look for.
Oral cancer can form anywhere inside the oral cavity or on the lips. In the early stages, you may not notice any changes. Receiving oral cancer screenings for early detection is essential. You should be aware of the symptoms, risk factors, and ways to reduce your risk of developing this disease.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
- White or red patches inside your mouth
- Non-healing lip or mouth sores
- Jaw pain or swelling
- Lump in your cheek
- Nonstop mouth pain
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Feels like something is stuck in your throat
- Problems moving your tongue or jaw
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
- Smoking and chewing tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Weak immune system
- Excessive sun exposure on the lips
- Over the age of 40
- Previously diagnosed with cancer
- Changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
Reducing Oral Cancer Risk
You can help reduce oral cancer risk by limiting sun exposure and using an SPF lip balm. Eat healthy well-balanced meals. Don’t use tobacco products, and drink alcohol in moderation. Denture wearers, remove dentures at night. Practice proper oral hygiene habits.
Signs and symptoms are not the same for everyone. Remember, early detection of oral cancer leads to better treatment outcomes. Get screened at least once a year during a visit for a routine exam and cleaning. If you’re at high risk of oral cancer, have screenings more frequently. Have you been screened? Contact my office to schedule an appointment.