April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to learn how you can prevent oral cancer. Oral cancer usually affects people who are 60 years old or older. But there are some cases where young adults are diagnosed with oral cancer. Regardless of your age, it’s never too early to learn how to prevent oral cancer!
1. What Causes Oral Cancer?
When you think of oral cancer, you might think of cancer on the tongue, but it’s much more than that. Oral cancer can include anything inside and around your mouth, including lips, gums, inner cheeks, soft palate, tonsils, or throat.
Excess exposure to the sun, tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, a weak immune system, or exposure to a sexually transmitted disease are some common causes of oral cancer. However, genetics can also cause oral cancer.
2. How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is usually curable, especially when caught in the early stages. But it’s better to avoid it altogether with these six preventive measures!
- •Stop Smoking – If you’ve smoked for years or a few months, you can reduce oral cancer by stopping today. This also applies to all kinds of tobacco use.
- •Reduce Alcohol Use – Excessive alcohol use can change your body’s chemistry and lower your body’s natural ability to fight off cancer-growing cells.
- •Develop Good Oral Hygiene Habits – Poor oral hygiene means you will not be able to fight off oral health diseases easily, including cancer.
- •Visit Your Dentist Regularly – Your dentist can check your mouth for any signs of oral cancer.
- •Protect Your Lips – Use a lip balm with SPF and wear large brim hats to protect your lips from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- •Get Vaccinated – The human papillomavirus can cause oral cancer. Get vaccinated to reduce your chances of oral cancer.
While you may take all of the precautions to prevent oral cancer, sometimes oral cancer can still impact your smile. Along with taking the proper preventative steps, you can also keep an eye out for any oral cancer warning signs.
3. What Are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?
Warning signs let us know that something needs help. Not everyone will experience the same oral cancer symptoms. Watch for one or several of these symptoms and let your dentist know right away if you experience them.
- •White, red, or gray patches in your mouth
- •Sores that bleed often and don’t heal after two weeks
- •Lumps on your neck or in your mouth
- •Dramatic voice changes
- •Pain in your mouth lasting more than two weeks
- •Chronic bad breath
- •Rough or crusty areas on your lips or inside your mouth
- •Bleeding, numbness, pain, or tenderness in your mouth for no obvious reason
- •Difficulties chewing, swallowing, talking, or moving your tongue or jaw
Some of these warning signs depend on the cancer stage, type, and location. When in doubt, get an oral examination from your dentist.
4. When Should I Visit Heroes Dental for an Oral Cancer Check-Up?
When left untreated, oral cancer can spread to other areas of the mouth, down your throat, or beyond. You don’t want to skip your regular dental check-ups for this reason.
You can also schedule an appointment if you have any oral health concerns. You don’t have to wait months until your next routine check-up to visit your Heroes Dental team. Whether it’s time for a regular check-up or you’re experiencing oral cancer symptoms, our caring team wants to help you keep your oral health protected and strong.