We tend to move through the world in a hurried way and often overlook health concerns that can be more serious than we initially thought. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer is a disease that more than 10,000 people lose their lives to every year and too often goes undetected.
By visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings, your dentist and dental hygienist are helping you catch oral cancer symptoms early through routine screenings. This is also one of the important reasons your dentist and hygienist will ask you if you’ve been having any problems with your teeth or gums at every visit and if you’ve noticed any changes. Catching oral cancer early usually leads to a better outcome.
If you notice a strange lump or spot on the inside or outside of your lips, cheeks, throat, gums, tongue, or on the roof or bottom of your mouth, you should meet with your dentist or physician promptly. It is important to do monthly self-checks using a mirror and a bright light to detect any issues.
Some of the most common oral cancer symptoms include:
- Sores or irritations that don’t go away
- Pain or discomfort when speaking, moving your tongue or jaw, swallowing or chewing.
- Red or white patches
- Ear pain without hearing loss that can’t be explained
- Tenderness, tingling, numbness, or pain in your mouth or on your lips
- Feeling like something is caught in your throat
- A lump or thickened rough spot that may appear crusty or a small eroded area.
If you notice any of the symptoms above and they last for more than two weeks, check-in with your dentist or other medical professional.
If your dentist detects anything unusual, further testing will likely be recommended.
Learn more about oral cancer here: