Did you know that over 49,600 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Oral cancer screenings are a routine part of every dental examination we perform here at Jackson Creek Dental Group and are an essential element of early detection.
Oral cancers may develop on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks and the roof and floor of the mouth. It often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or a sore. While the following signs and symptoms may not mean you have cancer, they are the most common signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- A sore that does not heal within about two weeks, or that bleeds easily.
- A lump, thickening, or a rough or crusty spot on the skin or lining of your mouth.
- A tiny white or reddish patch anywhere inside of your mouth.
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in your mouth or on your lips.
- A color change of the oral tissues.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
- A change in the way your teeth fit together.
So what can you do to help prevent getting oral cancer?
- Quit using (or don’t start using) tobacco including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others.
- Avoid alcohol use, especially when combined with tobacco use. The dehydrating effect of alcohol on cell walls enhances the ability of tobacco carcinogens to permeate mouth tissues.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips.
- Protect yourself from the sexually transmitted virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women and a possible risk factor for oral cancer.
- Do self-exams of the inside of your mouth at home using a flashlight and mirror. Make sure to check your tongue and all of its surfaces.
- Have regular dental check-ups combined with oral cancer screenings.
If you have a sore or discolored area of your mouth which does not heal within 14 days, see a dental professional immediately. We care about your health and well-being!