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Oral Cancer Facts

As we celebrate National Gum Care Month, we hope to highlight some gum conditions.  Disorders such as periodontal disease are important and deserve attention.  But others, like oral cancer, need awareness as well.  The most common symptom is a sore in the mouth, gums, or lips that does not heal.  Most of the injuries that occur to the soft tissues in your mouth resolve themselves without intervention.  But, some of these sores warrant a visit to the emergency dentist, and deserve your attention!

Highlight: Oral Cancer

One American dies every hour of every day from oral cancer. The 8th most common type of cancer for men. Cancer.net states that often a  dentist is the first person to find oral (or oropharyngeal) cancer during an exam. At first these sores can often be painless, which stresses how deceptive it can be. Often, it can appear as a velvety red and/or white patch on the lips, cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tongue, throat, or tonsils. Other symptoms and risk factors are found in the table below:


Symptoms Risk Factors
Swelling around lymph nodes Tobacco use (85%) of head and neck cancers linked to tobacco
Lumps in mouth Frequent & heavy alcohol use
Unexplained bleeding Sun exposure (especially for fair skin)
Sores that don’t heal after two weeks HPV (human papilloma virus)
A sore throat, change in voice, or difficulty talking or swallowing Gender and Age-Men are most than twice as likely to get oral cancer; the risk increases after age
Ear pain Diet low in fruits and vegetables
Newly loose teeth or dentures Marijuana use
Sudden, unexplained weight loss Family History

A simple exam can be performed from the comfort of your own bathroom.  Checkyourmouth.org is great resource with directions to help you perform the recommended monthly exam.  It is important to note that 25% of those diagnosed do not smoke and use alcohol only occasionally.  The best advice is to not ignore these symptoms and seek the help of an emergency dentist!  Early detection improves the success of treatment! Our convenient hours and payment plans make it easy for you to schedule an appointment for an exam.  Call us today!

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