Cancer is one of the biggest health concerns in America. Millions of people are diagnosed with it every year, with hundreds of thousands also succumbing to the disease. While there is a lot of awareness regarding breast and lung cancer, people should also look for other types of cancer. The most common cancer of the head and neck is oral cancer, affecting tens of thousands of Americans each year. Like any other form of cancer, catching the disease in the early stages results in the best chances of successful treatment.
Oral cancer screenings should be part of any good dental health routine. This straightforward procedure can be done quickly during a routine check-up, so there’s no reason to wait. The average person can miss common signs of oral cancer at home. The professional dental team at Greenwood Dental Care can spot these signs due to our years of experience and the latest technology and equipment at our disposal. We can help you detect any abnormalities in your oral health early, giving you the best chance of recovery. Contact us at 855.528.3961 to learn more.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a broad term for cancers that affect the inside of a person’s mouth. It often presents as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. While many conditions can cause white patches or sores in the mouth that bleed, the difference with oral cancer is that these sores do not get better with time. If left untreated, oral cancer can spread throughout a person’s mouth and throat to other areas of the head and neck.
Just like any other form of cancer, several factors can increase the chances of oral cancer developing:
- Alcohol use
- Tobacco use
- Advanced age
A majority of people who develop oral cancer are men over 60 years old.
What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
It’s essential to watch out for the signs of oral cancer at home. If any symptoms last longer than a week, schedule an appointment with a dentist immediately. There are several signs and symptoms of oral cancer that appear early on:
- A sore on the lip or mouth that does not heal
- A white or red patch anywhere along the soft tissue of the mouth
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness of the mouth or lips
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Any type of lumps or swelling in or around the mouth
- Ear pain
- Any change in the way the teeth fit together when the mouth is closed
How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?
While numerous factors can increase a person’s risk of developing oral cancer, anyone can develop the disease. For that reason, regular screenings are crucial to increase the chances of overcoming cancer. Your dentist should screen you for cancer once a year after you reach 18 years old. The prognosis of oral cancer is generally good if caught early, and cancer has not spread beyond the mouth.
There are some steps you can take at home to check your own oral health:
- Remove any dentures or mouthpieces
- Using a mirror, inspect inside the lips and the front of the gums
- Tilt the head back to inspect the roof of the mouth
- Inspect the inside surface of the cheek and the back of the gums
- Examine the surfaces of the tongue, including the underside
- Using the fingers, feel for lumps, sores, or thickened soft tissue
Contact Greenwood Dental Care for an Oral Cancer Screening
While you can do a basic check on your own at home, there’s no substitute for a professional oral cancer screening. At Greenwood Dental Care, we offer oral cancer screenings and various other dental health procedures. Contact us today at 855.528.3961 to schedule your screening. Our commitment is to provide pain-free, fast-acting, and long-lasting services to give you a great reason to smile.