Almost 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer annually in the United States. The disease claims the lives of over 8,000 people each year. Catching it early is vital to successfully treating oral cancer. When you schedule checkups and cleanings at least every six months with your dentist, you’re not just setting an appointment to clean and maintain your teeth. You’re also scheduling an oral cancer screening.
Set up regular checkups and cleanings at least every 6 months. Maintaining a consistent schedule of checkups and cleanings with your dentist will help you stay on top of any new developments concerning cancer, along with performing self-examinations once a month. Signs of oral cancer to look out for when performing these self-examinations are:
- Difficult or painful chewing and/or swallowing
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Sore throat
- Tongue pain
- Mouth sores that won’t heal
- White or red patches inside the mouth
If you begin to notice symptoms on your own, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible for an examination.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of oral cancer. While cutting these out of your life won’t absolutely remove the chance of cancer, you can greatly reduce it’s odds of developing by avoiding these factors:
- Use of tobacco products such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other related products
- Heavy alcohol use
- Unprotected and excessive exposure to the sun
Avoiding these bad habits goes a long way in helping prevent oral cancer from catching you off guard. Taking care of yourself and diligently screening for cancer will give you a major advantage.