April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Tuscaloosa wants to encourage all of our neighbors to get regular dental exams to check for signs of this scary disease. The truth is, oral cancer treatment is more successful the earlier that symptoms are detected. It’s important to know the common symptoms of oral cancer so you can seek treatment fast if you do notice anything that might be concerning.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can affect many areas of the mouth including the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, or the top or bottom of the mouth. Symptoms can include:
- A sore that doesn’t go away
- Irregular areas such as lumps, rough spots, or erosion
- Red or white patches
- Pain or numbness
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing
If you’re worried about any concerning areas in your mouth, schedule an appointment with your Tuscaloosa dentist as soon as possible.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several lifestyle factors that can increase the risk. For example, those who drink a lot of alcohol and those who smoke are more likely to get oral cancer than social drinkers and non-smokers. Age can also contribute to someone’s oral cancer risk, as those over 50 years old tend to get oral cancer more often than their younger counterparts. However, more recently the younger population has been put at greater risk of oral cancer due to the increase of HPV (human papillomavirus).
How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Even though there is no concrete way to avoid oral cancer, there are things you can do that can greatly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products
- Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen
- See your dentist
An oral cancer screening should be part of your routine dental cleaning. If you’re not sure if you’ve ever been screened for the disease, ask your dentist.
For more information about oral cancer, or if it’s been more than six months since your last dental exam, we welcome you to call our dental office in Tuscaloosa to schedule an appointment today.