April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, we're here to remind you why dental exams are so important.

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness month we’re here to remind you why dental exams are so important. Getting an exam every six months helps your dentist spot any recent changes in your oral health. This can help you prevent cavities and gum disease, and even help you get an early diagnosis if you have oral cancer.

Oral cancer is a deadly disease that requires swift intervention. The earlier that its symptoms are detected, the better your chances of recovery will be. So if you have any risk factors for oral cancer, it’s important to get screened on a regular basis. 

Oral Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

Did you know that you can get oral cancer screenings as part of your regular dental checkups? In fact, since dentists are often the first ones to recognize the symptoms, going to your twice-yearly appointments just might save your life.

Self-screenings at home are important, too. Whenever you brush and floss, take a moment to examine your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, let your dentist know. It might be something else, like gum disease, a TMJ disorder, or cold sores, and the sooner you get it checked out, the better.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

  • White or red patches in your mouth
  • Persistent sores
  • Unusual lumps
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Poorly-fitting dentures

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

  • Gender – men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer
  • Age – people over the age of 50 have a higher risk
  • HPV infections – may cause cancer in people under 50
  • History of smoking or tobacco use

Smoking, Vaping, and Oral Cancer

If you smoke or vape, do your best to quit—it’s bad for your dental health, and it’s a risk factor for oral cancer. Even if it’s not as harmful as smoking, vaping is still risky. E-cigarettes contain carcinogenic compounds that can alter your DNA and may increase your risk of certain cancers, including oral cancer and lung cancer. 

There hasn’t been much research yet into the possible links between vaping and oral cancer. Vaping is still a relatively new phenomenon, and because it can take many years for signs of oral cancer to manifest, it has been difficult for researchers to determine if there is a direct link. However, because of the DNA changes that it causes, vaping has been flagged as a risk factor.

Oral Cancer Screenings in Prescott, Arizona

Because our focus is on holistic dental care, we always take into consideration the many ways that your dental health can affect your entire body. Dental diseases have been linked to many chronic conditions, from arthritis to diabetes, heart disease to oral cancer. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy helps keep the rest of your body healthy, too. 

If you would like to schedule an appointment for an exam that includes an oral cancer screening, please call us at 928-445-1660 or send us a message online. 


Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 4/8/2024.