According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, the death rate of oral and oropharyngeal cancers remains high mainly because of how common they’re discovered late in development. That means by visiting your dentist in Vero Beach regularly, you can dramatically reduce your chances of developing oral cancer before it’s too late.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so your dentist thought it would be a good time to help patients protect themselves by learning about oral cancer, taking note of the warning signs, and explain the importance of regular visits.
What is Oral Cancer?
Like all cancers, it is defined as an uncontrollable growth of cells that damage surrounding tissue. In this case, oral cancer appears anywhere within the oral cavity, such as the cheek lining, gums, tongue, hard palate, and lips. Oropharyngeal cancer appears in the throat, the base of the tongue, tonsils, soft palate, and walls of the pharynx.
People who are newly diagnosed with oral cancer can survive if caught early. However, 40 percent of those newly diagnosed will not survive longer than five years, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine. Even after surviving, many patients also report long-term problems, including facial disfigurement and difficulties performing basic tasks like eating and speaking.
It’s these reasons why both you and your dentist in Vero Beach must remain diligent and pay close attention to the warnings signs should they appear.
What are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?
You’ll need to pay attention to your risk factors just as much as your physical symptoms to reduce your chances of oral cancer. For example, if you drink heavily or use tobacco frequently, you’re much more likely to develop oral cancer, especially if you do both. Other common risk factors include having HPV, being above the age of 50, and sustaining prolonged exposure to UV rays.
Here are the symptoms you and your dentist will need to watch out for:
- Sores, soreness, or irritation that doesn’t go away
- Red or white patches in the mouth or lips
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the oral cavity
- Lumps, thickening tissues, and rough spots
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw
- Looseness in your teeth, especially when closing your mouth
Why You Need to Get Tested
Only a medical professional, such as your dentist, can confirm the health status of your oral cavity and throat. When you visit for your regular check-up, the dentist will make an effort to catch symptoms associated with oral cancer, not just decay and gum disease. In fact, you may not even notice that he’s checking for oral cancer, but just know that if he notices an issue, he’ll take a small sample of tissue and have it tested to confirm if oral cancer is present.
Don’t become another statistic. Schedule a visit with your dentist today to get your oral cancer screening in Vero Beach!
About the Author
Dr. Adam Jones earned his doctoral degree from the University of Florida in 2011. In 2014, he earned his master’s degree and certificate specializing in prosthodontics. If you think you have symptoms of oral cancer, don’t hesitate to contact him at (772) 234-5353 or visit his website.