Theestimates more than 50,000 Americans will get oral or throat cancer this year. While oral cancer starts in the mouth, it can spread to other parts of your body and even become deadly.
While more than 10,000 Americans are expected to die from throat and oral cancers, this outcome can be prevented by early detection.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is so dangerous because patients often don’t exhibit symptoms until it’s too late. If you recognize any of the early signs of mouth cancer below, schedule an appointment with your emergency dentist as soon as possible.
- White or red patches in mouth
- Numbness or pain when biting down
- Bleeding in mouth
- Lump in throat or mouth
- Lump on lips
- Hoarse voice
How Oral Cancer Screenings Save Lives
Oral cancer screenings save lives by detecting mouth cancer in its early stages. The earlier your dentist is able to detect oral cancer symptoms, the better chance you’ll have of survival. There are two main types of screenings, which are clinical examination and oral examination. The type of screening done will depend on your dentist and your medical history.
During a clinical examination, your family dentist examines the inside of your mouth for patches and sores that don’t belong. They will also feel along the inside of your cheek and other parts of your mouth for bumps. A clinical exam is simple enough to be done during your regular teeth cleaning appointment.
An oral exam, on the other hand, is more thorough because your dentist uses a special screening device to detect cancer or premalignant lesions. If cancer is detected, you’ll be able to start mouth cancer treatment as soon as possible.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
While oral cancer can’t be prevented, there are things you can do to lower your risk. By doing the following, you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of getting oral cancer.
- Stop using tobacco products.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.
- Wear sun protection on your lips.
- Eat a nutritious diet.
If you have a history of using tobacco products or abusing alcohol, you are at higher risk for oral cancer. You are also at higher risk for lip cancer if you didn’t use sun protection on your lips while spending long periods of time outside. If you recognize any of the signs of oral cancer, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for an oral cancer screening. That small step may end up saving your life.
Dr. Scott Strickland DDS at Scott Strickland DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is dedicated to helping patients maintain good oral health through preventative dentistry. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with our dentist for a mouth cancer screening, give us a call at (443) 759-0910.