Bozart Family Dentistry Tip of the Week: April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

By / Health and Wellness / Tuesday, 25 April 2017 04:00

It's April, which means the start of spring flowers, warmer days and oral cancer awareness.. That's right, April is oral cancer awareness month and in honor of it we'd like to make you more aware of what oral cancer is, it's risk factors, symptoms and how to avoid it.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer found inside of the mouth and accounts for approximately 2-4% of all cancers diagnosed in the US. However, it has one of the lowest survival rates, mostly due to late detection. One big issue isn’t that the symptoms are difficult to notice, there just isn’t enough awareness of this disease or it's risk factors. Which is also why going to your bi-annual dental visits can literally save your life as dentists are usually the first line of defense in detecting this terrible disease.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
The two top risk factors for developing oral cancer are tobacco use, in both chewing and smoking tobacco. In fact, nearly 90% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are tobacco users. Having the HPV virus is also another high risk factor that is becoming more and more common. Other high-risk factors include: excessive alcohol use, excessive sun exposure, poor nutrition, being male (men's odds are twice that of women's), and being over the age of 45.
If caught early enough, oral cancer has a 90% survival rate. Unfortunately, more times than not this cancer is caught too late when it's already progressed beyond the point where it can be treated effectively.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The symptoms of oral cancer can often go unnoticed (since they are inside of your mouth) for far too long. This is why visiting your dentist twice a year is so important, not only for your teeth but for your oral cancer screenings as well! So if you're having any of these symptoms below, we would recommend that you get screened by your dentist ASAP! Even if you don't notice any of these, it's very important to make sure that you're screened at least once a year during one of your dental check ups.
Some of the more common oral cancer symptoms are:
• a sore or irritation that doesn't go away
• red or white patches in your mouth
• pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips
• a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
• difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
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