What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

January 8, 2019

Burgundy awareness ribbon as symbol of Multiple Myeloma, oral cancer, amyloidosis support, brain aneurysm and adults with disabilities supportWhen was the last time you heard about a mouth cancer 5K? Exactly. Mouth cancer, also called oral cancer, doesn’t get a lot of attention.

However, The American Cancer Association estimates that 51,540 people will get oral cancer in 2018, and 10,030 of those cases will be fatal. As with all cancers, the key to protecting yourself against this disease is to detect and treat it as early as possible.

At All Smiles Dental Group, we want to ensure that our patients are aware of oral cancer, since this is an important first step to preventing the disease. Keep reading to learn what you should know about oral cancer.

What is Oral Cancer?

Like all cancers, oral cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells. Oral cancer occurs in these areas:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Inner lining of the cheeks
  • Roof of the mouth
  • Floor of the mouth

Signs of Oral Cancer

Checking with a medical professional is the only way to know for sure whether you have oral cancer. However, it’s smart to know the common symptoms and bring it to your dentist’s attention should you notice any of these signs:

  • Ulcers that don’t heal within three weeks
  • Unusual swelling, bumps, or lumps in or around your mouth, neck, and head
  • Looseness of teeth
  • Changes in speech, including lisp

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

You are at an increased risk of oral cancer if you smoke or drink alcohol, and especially if you do both. The HPV vaccination, Gardasil, may also help prevent oral cancer. While a gender-neutral vaccine is in the works, it is currently only offered to females.

Another important thing to do to reduce your risk of oral cancer is to make sure you make it into the dentist’s office for your checkups every 6 months. Oral cancer screenings are just one of the many reasons why your two annual checkups are important. A dental professional will be able to recognize any issues and refer you for additional screenings if they see anything suspicious.

Frequent exposure to second-hand smoke and poor diet can also be risks.