Know Your Mouth: Oral Cancer Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention

Know Your Mouth: Oral Cancer Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention

Oral cancer is a scary reality nobody wants to accept. In the United States alone more than 43,000 people are estimated to be diagnosed with the disease this year. However not all hope is lost, as educating yourself on prevention methods, early detection and treatment options can potentially save you from this disease.

Early detection is a huge factor in the prevention of full-blown oral cancer. It’s as easy as visiting your dentist every six months to get an oral checkup. Dentists can detect tissue which can be cancerous in their early stages and make an accurate diagnosis while still curable. The survival rate spikes up to 80%-90% if early detection conditions are met.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening is a 30-minute exam which inspects your medical, dental and physical checkup history. Also, a detailed inspection of the mouth is done to find any oddities like sores or patches.

Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Every three months or so, usually in between your routine exams, it would be beneficial to perform self-examinations to detect any symptoms of oral cancer. Such symptoms can include:

Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue

  • Swelling or thickening of areas inside the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Sores on the face, neck, or mouth which are not healing
  • A chronic sore throat
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • If you have dentures, they’ll fit awkwardly
  • Lumps around your neck, mouth, and lips
  • Rapid weight loss

Oral Cancer Prevention Tips

While oral cancer can be prevented there are still measures you can take to lessen your risk.

  • Avoid smoking and the use of all tobacco products.
  • Limit or refrain from drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid overexposure to the sun, and use sunblock on your skin and lips.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.

If you feel as if you’re at risk for oral cancer, please contact your dentist immediately for a standard checkup. This oral disease is devasting, but with early detection, you can change the outcome of your dental future.