As you lean back in your dentist’s treatment chair, you can’t help but remember all the times you were “just too tired” to brush and floss your teeth properly. Now that they are conducting the examination, you are completely convinced they are going to find a handful of cavities. However, when they finish your checkup, they lean back and utter a word that truly terrifies you: cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, over 51,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. While that statistic may initially seem sobering, it is important to remember that an early diagnosis and prompt treatment can improve your chances of survival. With that in mind, a prosthodontist in Lincoln is sharing common symptoms, risk factors, and prevention tactics.
8 Signs of Oral Cancer
With cancer, it is common for symptoms to vary from person to person. However, there are some frequent signs that many patients experience across the board. Therefore, it is important to look for:
- White or red mouth sores on your gums, tonsils, or the lining of your mouth.
- Swelling in your neck.
- A lump in your cheek.
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing.
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue.
- Frequent bad breath.
- Unintended weight loss.
- Feeling like something is caught in your throat.
6 Common Risk Factors
Although oral cancer has been a prevalent health issue for decades, extensive research is still underway on what exactly causes it. However, researchers have pinpointed certain behaviors and conditions that put patients at a higher risk of being diagnosed:
- Using tobacco products.
- Consuming a large amount of alcohol.
- Contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Extended sun exposure.
- Being over the age of 45.
- Having another type of head or neck cancer.
How to Minimize Your Risk
Fortunately, mouth cancers are recognized as one of the most preventable types of cancers. In fact, if it is diagnosed in the early stages, the survival rate is up to 81% (compared to roughly 45% at the five-year mark). So, it is of the utmost importance to minimize your risk by limiting your sun exposure, eating a balanced diet, quitting poor oral habits (like using tobacco products), and visiting your dentist twice a year for checkups. With this in mind, make sure to talk to your dentist today about scheduling a bi-yearly visit and oral cancer screening!
About the Author
After earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska, Dr. Jennifer Reed obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from UNMC College of Dentistry in 1991. From there, she completed her certificate of specialization in prosthodontics before finishing her advanced surgical and prosthetic training in 2001. Today, she is a member of multiple reputable organizations, including the American Dental Association and the American College of Prosthodontics. If you would like to speak with Dr. Reed about scheduling an oral cancer screening, visit her website or give her a call at 402-488-5007.