Oral Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention
January 1, 2022

Oral Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention

Is it time for your next dental cleaning? Your bi-annual checkup is more than just a chance to get your teeth cleaned. These preventative care appointments can help you catch disease early, reduce overall dental health needs, and keep your smile healthy for years. That’s why our dentist in Dumont includes an oral cancer screening during your checkup.

One of the most overlooked diseases is oral cancer. What are the risks for oral cancer? Many people assume that they aren’t at risk, especially if they don’t smoke, use tobacco products or drink alcohol. We’re discovering that certain risk factors, such as sun exposure and viruses like HPV can also raise concerns about cancer.

Oral Cancer Screening

It is hard to detect oral cancer on your own. In the early stages, pre-cancerous tissue may not be distinguished from those around it. Oral cancer is usually advanced by the time the tissues are noticeable to the patient.

It’s crucial to recognize the signs of oral cancer early. At this point, you can access earlier and less invasive treatment. An early diagnosis is crucial since it’s important to detect abnormalities before they invade surrounding lymph nodes.

Routine oral cancer screenings enable us to intervene earlier and provide the best possible prognosis. Even if you do not smoke or use tobacco products you may still be at risk of this deadly disease.

These are the most common signs of oral cancer that we will look for. You can also check for them at home:

Changes in Your “Vermillion Border”

Your lips should have a distinct border where your pigmented lip tissue meets your face. Loss of a defined border or “blurring” between the two tissues could indicate skin damage or pre-cancer. It is important to have our dentist in Dumont examine it as part of your routine checkup.

Small Sores that Won’t Heal

A sore that does not heal is one of the most obvious signs of oral cancer. Wounds usually heal within 10-14 days. Oral cancer doesn’t. Unfortunately pain usually isn’t a factor so it can be harder to miss these areas.

Red/White Spots or Tissues that Look “Different”

Consistency of color and texture in your oral tissues is a good sign. If you notice any white spots, speckles, or other surface textures that are different from the rest of your mouth, let us know. Irregular, stand-alone tissues could indicate precancerous tissue or pathological tissue and may need to be biopsied.

Nodules, Lumps, Difficulty Swimming

If you feel a knot in your throat, floor of your mouth, or cheeks, take note. If you notice any irregular swelling or difficulty swallowing, it is best to consult a professional.

How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?

How do you prevent oral cancer?  It’s possible to detect oral cancer in its most early and treatable stages, but can you prevent it? The best thing to do is to reduce all risk factors. What are the main causes of oral cancer?  Smoking and smokeless tobacco are two examples, so it’s best to give them up. Consider reducing your alcohol intake or quitting altogether. And when you’re out in the sun, apply sunscreen to your skin and use lip balm that includes SPF.

Even people with a low-risk for oral cancer can still develop this horrible disease. Thankfully, an oral cancer screening can detect pathology while it’s still early enough to treat.

Schedule a Professional Exam

Are you unsure when your last oral cancer screening was? Schedule your next checkup at Palisades Dental Care in Dumont and we’ll conduct a life-saving screening for oral cancer during your visit. When it comes to early signs and screenings for oral cancer, our dentist in Dumont is the best resource you have. It’s best to spot irregular tissue changes in your mouth as soon as possible. And since you see a dentist every six months, they’re your best resource for early diagnosis and treatment. Contact Palisades Dental Care today for your next appointment.