April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Published on April 25, 2013 by

Oral cancerApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Cancer of the mouth, or oral cancer, refers to cancer that occurs in the tissues of the mouth that include the tongue, lips, gums, tonsils and cheeks.  Mouth cancer is one of the most serious cancers, but is also one of the most preventable.

In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see their dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks.

  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when you close your mouth
  • An earache

Research has identified a number of factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer.  Those at an especially high risk for developing oral cancer are heavy drinkers and smokers older than 50.  Frequent sun exposure increases the risk for cancer of the lips.  The human papilloma visus version 16, which is sexually transmitted, is related to the increasing incidence of mouth cancer in non-smoking patients.  It is likely that there is a complex interaction of many external and internal factors that play a role in the development of oral cancer.  Anyone can get oral cancer but the risk is higher if you are male, over age 40, use tobacco or alcohol or have a history of head and neck cancer.

Here at Martin Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we do oral cancer exams at your new patient appointment as well as at your regular cleanings.  For more information about oral cancer please feel free to visit the attached dental link.  www.oralcancerfoundation.org

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