Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects millions of people around the world, and unfortunately, it often goes undetected until it has reached an advanced stage. As a periodontal practice, we believe it’s essential to raise awareness about the importance of oral cancer screenings, which can help detect this disease early on when it’s most treatable.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. These cancers can occur in anyone, but certain factors can make one more susceptible to developing the disease, including tobacco and alcohol use, a weakened immune system, and exposure to certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
While the symptoms of oral cancer can vary depending on the location of the cancer, some common signs include persistent mouth sores, white or red patches in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a lump or thickening in the cheek. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a dental professional as soon as possible.
Our periodontal team is trained to examine the soft tissues within the mouth; this includes the gums, cheeks, tongue, and throat. During a routine exam, we look for any signs of oral cancer, such as lesions or lumps. If we detect any abnormalities, we may recommend that you undergo further testing, such as a biopsy.
Having regular dental exams is crucial for detecting oral cancer early on when it’s most treatable. According to the American Dental Association, adults should get routine checkups (at least once every six months) to have a routine oral exam and cleaning. During these visits, our periodontist can check for signs of oral cancer and other oral health problems, such as gum disease.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Along with regular dental exams, there are other steps you can take to lower your risk of developing oral cancer. One of the most important things you can do is quit smoking or using other tobacco products. Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for oral cancer, so quitting can seriously lower your risk of this disease.
Additionally, by reducing your alcohol consumption coupled with practicing safe sex, you can also help lessen your risk of developing oral cancer. Certain strains of the HPV virus have been linked to oral cancer, and using protection during sex can reduce your risk of contracting the virus.
As you can see, oral cancer is a serious disease that can have a significant impact on your health and quality of life. Our periodontal team strongly encourages everyone to get regular dental exams and screenings to check for oral cancer. By taking steps to lower your risk, especially quitting smoking and cutting back on your alcohol consumption, you can help protect your oral and overall health for a better quality of life!
If you notice any signs of oral cancer, such as persistent mouth sores or difficulty swallowing, please don’t hesitate to see a dental professional right away. Early detection and treatment are critical for a successful outcome when it comes to cancer in the mouth. We invite you to call our team to schedule your oral cancer screening!