With oral cancer leading to the equivalent of one person in the US dying every hour each year, we believe it is imperative that we use Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April to highlight the importance of your oral health and how to be aware of symptoms that lead to this disease that almost 55,000 people are diagnosed with per year.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer refers to cancer that is found in the lips, mouth, or throat lining and there are seven key symptoms that you should be aware of so that you can recognize them during your daily oral health routine of brushing and flossing.
Lumps or swelling in your mouth
White or red patches or sores
Difficulty swallowing or chewing
Sudden weight loss
Pain in the jaw or ear
Consistent bad breath
What To Do if You Notice Any Symptoms of Oral Cancer
You may not be aware, but every time you come to our Lorton dental office for a routine exam, Dr. Reyes will check for signs of oral cancer. However, if you notice any of the symptoms for more than a week or two it's important to call our dental office right away to arrange an appointment, even if you have a scheduled appointment. The check is quick and pain-free and it can be life-saving if you catch issues early.
How to Reduce Your Chance of Getting Oral Cancer
There are certain behaviors or habits that can make you more likely to be affected by oral cancer that you can try to limit, including reducing your tobacco and alcohol consumption. There are also other things you can do to help reduce your risk factors:
Brush and floss your teeth after every meal (or at least twice a day)
Visit the dentist at least twice a year to have a dental exam and cleaning
Reduce sun exposure on your lips/ use SPF lip balm
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
Although everyone can be affected by cancer, if you are a man, you’re twice as likely to get oral cancer than a woman, so men should be particularly aware of the symptoms. Human papillomavirus is one of the other major risk factors so it’s also advised to get the HPV vaccine if you are eligible.
If you have any concerns about your oral health and the symptoms related to oral cancer, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or make an appointment with your Lorton dentist.