In the United States, oral cancer is projected to kill approximately 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day, for the next year. Although the death rate for this type of cancer is astounding, it is one of the most treatable cancers if it detected early. Which makes it profoundly important to learn the warning signs of oral cancer.
Mouth cancer includes cancer in any part of the oral cavity or oropharynx, including the mouth, gums and lips as well the throat at the back of your mouth. However, its symptoms are not always obvious. A quick self-check in the mirror after you’ve brushed your teeth can provide life-saving information about the presence of oral cancer.
Here are some common oral cancer warning signs to look out for:
- 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.
Only a dentist or medical professional can accurately diagnose oral cancer. Therefore, if you suffer from any of the above signs, it is important that you share your findings with your dentist. Although Pleasant Plains Dental conducts oral cancer screenings at our routine dental exams, don’t ever wait to share your concerns with one of our dentists. An abnormal change in your lip, cheek or gums may be nothing to worry about, but it could also make the difference in whether or not an oral cancer treatment is successful. Early detection is paramount when it comes to oral cancer.
In addition to being aware of the warning signs of oral cancer, you can also do your part in preventing it. Keep both 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 exercise program. Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products can also greatly reduce your risk for mouth cancer.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Henry J. Ernst, Pleasant Plains Dental