You know how important it is to take care of your teeth and any problems that come up, but how much do you know about oral cancer? Do you know how to spot the signs? April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a reminder for us all to be on the lookout for signs of this deadly disease.
What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
You aren’t the only one who is looking out for signs of cancer on your tongue, lips, and gums, where oral cancer can be found. Checking for oral cancer is a part of a routine dental checkup, which is one reason why it is so important to see your dentist every 6 months. But there are some irregularities you can look for as well that can indicate oral cancer, some of which might surprise you:
- Ear pain
- Loose teeth
- White or red patches of tissue
- Growths or lumps in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing (or even pain while swallowing)
- A sore that won’t heal
- Tongue pain
- Jaw pain and/or stiffness
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Numbness in the face or tongue
- Bad breath
- Enlarged neck lymph nodes
- Constant coughing for no apparent reason
You may be more at risk for oral cancer if you use any type of tobacco, if you drink alcohol excessively, if you have a weakened immune system, or if your lips have been excessively exposed to the sun. The average age of diagnosis is 62; however, more and more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with oral cancer. Oral cancer is responsible for about 2% of the cancer deaths in the country, but the earlier it is found the easier it is to treat.
How long has it been since you have been to the dentist for an exam? This visit isn’t just to make sure your teeth are healthy – it’s also to check for signs of oral cancer and anything unusual. If it’s time for a cleaning and exam, contact the office of Samuel Jirik, DDS, Implant, Cosmetic & General Dentistry in Cabot, Arkansas. Call (501) 843-9561 for an appointment today!