Oral Cancer Awareness in Prescott
No one wants to spend time thinking about oral cancer. But since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, at Prescott Dentistry, we want to take this opportunity to educate you on oral cancer prevention tips, the importance of early detection, and treatment options. The good news is that with early detection, oral cancer is generally very treatable.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is more common than you might realize, with approximately 50,000 Americans diagnosed every year. It is most common among people ages 41-60, and men are at a greater risk of developing it than women. Oral cancer can affect your tongue, cheeks, lips, sinuses, throat, teeth, gums, and roof of the mouth or below your tongue. Regular visits to your dentist here at Prescott Dentistry include screenings for signs of oral cancer. These signs include:
- Unexplained bleeding or numbness in your mouth
- Dentures that fit differently than they used to
- Red or white sores in your mouth that don’t heal
- Lump in your mouth or throat
- Loose teeth
- Pain in your mouth or ear
- Jaw pain or stiffness when chewing
- Difficult or painful swallowing
Some of these symptoms may be confused with gum disease or cold sores, so it’s important you see your dentist here at Prescott Dentistry for an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Oral Cancer
Both genetics and lifestyle habits can put you at increased risk for oral cancer. Some of the known causes include: using tobacco, abusing alcohol, HPV (human papillomavirus), family history of cancer, and excessive sun exposure (especially at a young age). While there is no known way to prevent oral cancer, knowing the causes and risk factors can help reduce your risk of developing it. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Stop using tobacco.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially to your lips.
- See your dentist regularly– Oral cancer screening is part of your regular exam. Your dentist can see and feel precancerous tissue changes and early cancer, and can diagnose them during the curable stages. When oral cancer is detected early, the survival rate is an encouraging 80% to 90%.
While oral cancer is certainly concerning, the good news is that ensuring early detection is as easy as attending your routine dental exams with Prescott Dentistry every six months. If this is something you are concerned about, be sure to let us know at your next appointment. As a holistic dentist practice, we are passionate about oral cancer prevention as part of our commitment to your overall health.