April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
When was the last time you looked inside your mouth? When you visit your dentist for your 6 month preventative hygiene appointment your doctor will do an oral cancer exam which consists of checking the inside of your gums and lips and the roof of your mouth. They will handle your tongue with gauze to check the inside and bottom of your tongue for any abnormalities.
The best thing for a person to do is to do a home exam also. There are now kits available that show you how to do a home exam. The following signs and symptoms are reasons to make an appointment with your family Doctor or Dentist:
- A sore that doesn’t heal on your lips, the inside of your mouth or tongue
- A sore that bleeds
- A growth, lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Tongue pain
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Difficulty chewing or painful swallowing
- Sore throat
These oral cancers are more common in men as in women. The statistics of oral cancer have decreased over the years but over 51,540 people will get oral cancer and an estimated 10,030 will die. That still is a frightening amount.
The American cancer society is pushing both people and dentists to have each and every patient examined when they come in for their preventative appointments.
The risk factors that increase your risk of mouth cancer include:
- Tobacco use of ANY kind
- Heavy alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure to your lips
- A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
- A weakened immune system
See your dentist regularly. As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate mouth cancer or precancerous changes.