Oral Cancer: Signs, Symptoms, & Prevention

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Doctor, otolaryngologist or dentist with a medical instrument checking the throat for tonsils or oral cancer. Health, healthcare worker and wellness with an ent specialist examining a black woman.

Morrisville Dentist

Oral cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects thousands of people each year. Early detection and treatment are crucial in increasing the chances of a successful outcome. At Pearly Whites Dental Care, we believe that raising awareness about oral cancer, its signs and symptoms, and prevention methods is essential in helping our patients maintain their overall oral health. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and provide tips on how you can prevent this disease.

Understanding Oral Cancer

Oral cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Factors that can increase the risk of developing oral cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and prolonged sun exposure without sunscreen.

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Detecting oral cancer in its early stages is crucial for successful treatment. Regular dental checkups can help identify potential issues, but it is also essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate oral cancer. These include:

  • Persistent mouth sores that do not heal
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Persistent pain in the mouth, jaw, or ear
  • Swelling or thickening of the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • Loose teeth with no apparent cause
  • Changes in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • A lump or mass in the neck

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for a thorough examination.

Oral Cancer Screenings

At Pearly Whites Dental Care, we recommend regular oral cancer screenings as part of your routine dental checkups. During an oral cancer screening, your Morrisville dentist will visually examine your mouth for any signs of cancer and may also palpate your neck and jaw to feel for any abnormalities. If any suspicious areas are found, your dentist may recommend a biopsy to determine if cancer is present.

Prevention Tips for Oral Cancer

While oral cancer can affect anyone, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk and promote overall oral health. These include:

  • Avoid tobacco use: Smoking and using smokeless tobacco significantly increase the risk of oral cancer. Quitting tobacco can drastically reduce your risk.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of oral cancer. It is recommended to limit your alcohol intake to moderate levels.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help boost your immune system and lower your risk of oral cancer.
  • Protect your lips from the sun: Use a lip balm with SPF and wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your lips from harmful UV rays.
  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly, along with routine dental checkups, can help prevent oral health issues that may lead to oral cancer.
  • Get vaccinated against HPV: The HPV vaccine can help protect against certain strains of the virus that are associated with an increased risk of oral cancer.

Schedule Your Oral Exam With Our Morrisville Dentist Today

Awareness of the signs, symptoms, and prevention methods for oral cancer is essential in maintaining your overall oral health. At Pearly Whites Dental Care, we are committed to providing comprehensive dental care and oral cancer screenings to ensure the well-being of our patients. If you have concerns about oral cancer or would like to schedule an appointment for a screening, please contact our office today.