Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

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O'Fallon IL DentistsIn the United States, oral cancer is projected to cause 8,000 deaths this year, killing approximately 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. The reason that the death rate for this type of cancer is so high is simply because it is often discovered in the later stages of development. Therefore, learning the warning signs of oral cancer becomes critically important. When detected and treated early, it is a highly treatable cancer.

Mouth cancer includes cancer in any part of the oral cavity or oropharynx, including the mouth, gums and lips as well as the throat at the back of your mouth. There are many symptoms and signs of oral cancer, and some are not as obvious as you may think.

Here are some common oral cancer warning signs to be aware of:

  • White, red, or mixed red and white spots (or patches) on your tongue, gums, or any other tissues in your mouth.
  • A sore or irritation in the mouth that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal.
  • Bleeding in the mouth.
  • Persistent tenderness, pain, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek or neck.
  • A thick, rough, or crusty spot, or a small area in the mouth.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, talking, or moving your jaw or tongue.
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.
  • A change in your voice that isn’t due to a cold or allergies.
  • An earache that doesn’t go away.
  • Numbness of the lower lip and chin.

Beyond doing your own self-check at home, you should participate in yearly oral cancer screenings at your dental office. Soft Touch Dentistry conducts thorough oral cancer screenings on a yearly basis as part of your routine dental exam. Promptly discussing any abnormalities in your lips, cheeks, gums or throat with your dentist can potentially save your life.

Lowering your risk for oral cancer means keeping your mouth and body at optimal health. This includes seeing your dentist every six months, maintaining proper oral hygiene at home as well as engaging in a well-balanced diet and exercising. Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products can also significantly reduce your risk for mouth cancer.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Sarah Thompson, Soft Touch Dentistry
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Soft Touch Dentistry
1214 Paragon Drive
O’Fallon, IL 62269
Phone: (618) 622-5050