Did you know that oral cancer is the silent killer of one person every hour of every day in America? Sadly, it's true! It's not cancer you hear a lot about, but it has a higher death rate than other types of cancer, mainly because it's typically detected in its later stages.
This is why routine visits to your dentist every six months are critical for protecting your dental health. Your dentist screens you for oral cancer during every six-month examination to detect it as early as possible, giving you the best prognosis for treatment.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is grouped into those cancers found in the head and neck, not including the brain, thyroid, or auditory and ocular cancers, which have their own separate categories. What's particularly dangerous about oral cancer is that it can be challenging to detect because there are few symptoms or pain at first. It may also be overlooked because its appearance can look similar to a canker sore. Some other signs and symptoms to be aware of are:
- A lump or mass inside your mouth or neck
- Red or white patches on your soft tissue or gums
- Difficulty or discomfort when swallowing
- A sore or lesion that doesn't heal within 14 days
- Persistent earaches
- Hoarseness that doesn't go away
- Numbness in your mouth or face
If you notice any changes in your mouth or have sores that aren't healing, it's essential to have your dentist check those right away.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
Smoking cigarettes or using tobacco is the number one risk factor for developing oral cancer. Combine this with alcohol consumption, and your odds increase 15 times. There are also links between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer, which has increased over the years.
Your best defense against oral cancer and other problems like gum disease and tooth decay is regularly attending your routine teeth cleanings and dental exams. If it's time to book your next preventive appointment, contact your team at Advanced Dental Care to schedule.