A simple and painless test performed annually during our regular dental check-up can help identify potential warning signs of oral cancer. We can also limit our exposure to certain risk factors we now know are associated with oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, many types of abnormal cells can develop in the oral cavity in the form of red or white spots. Some are harmless and benign, some are cancerous and others are pre-cancerous, meaning they can develop into cancer if not detected early and removed.
The Oral Cancer Foundation goes on to suggest a little self-examination can go a long way in between dental visits. On their website here, you’ll notice we are the most important factor in an early diagnosis. Here are some warning signs from the OCF.
– A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
– A lump or thickening in the cheek.
– A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
– A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
– Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
– Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
– Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
– Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
The American Cancer Society provides a complete guide to oral cancer here, some prevention tips include:
– Limiting tobacco and alcohol usage
– Limiting exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
– Wearing properly fitted dentures
– Eating a healthy diet
– Avoiding HPV infection
Be sure to ask your dentist about an oral cancer screening on your next scheduled check-up.