In April we recognize Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology (AAOMP), American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have joined the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) in its campaign to emphasize the importance of regular oral cancer examinations.
Oral cancer is not a rare disease. Approximately 42,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year in the United States. The good news is that it can often be found early in its development, through a simple, painless and quick screening.
Oral cancer is one of the few cancers that are on the rise in the United States. When found early, oral cancers have an 80% or better survival rate. Like other cancer screenings, such as those for cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast cancer, oral cancer screenings can be an effective means of finding cancer at its earliest and most easily treatable stage. Of all these screenings, the one for oral cancer is the least invasive and time-consuming, it is painless and inexpensive, and it can be done as part of a regular dental hygiene check-up. Therefore, it is very easy for you to include an oral cancer screen as part of your health care plan.
If you have the following symptoms, it is important for you to see your dentist, even if you are not due for a regular check up:
- A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
- Red or white patches
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- A lump, crust or small eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
In addition to a regular dental checkup, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of oral cancer, including:
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco
- Limit alcoholic beverages
- Eat more plant-based foods
For more information about oral cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Website.
To make an appointment for an oral cancer examination or your biannual cleaning appointment, contact Gentle Dental Center at (757) 431-1300.