Fact: Oral cancer accounts for 5% of all cancers in the United States
Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in males and the twelfth most common in females.
The etiology of oral cancer is multifactorial. No single causative agent or factor has been clearly defined or accepted, but both extrinsic and intrinsic factors may be at work.
- Tobacco smoke
- Generalized malnutrition
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Sore(s) that bleed easily and do not heal
- Changes in the color or texture (usually a lump, thickening or eroded area) of oral tissue
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
- Difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty manipulating the jaw or tongue
- A change in the way the teeth fit together
This is a team effort and if you notice any changes in your mouth between dental visits call your dentist right away. You and your dentist become a team, constantly on alert for changes because prevention is always the best medicine.
Be Proactive – Get a Screening
This Screening consists of the following:
- Pressing the sides and front of the neck and feeling for tenderness or lumps
- Pulling up your upper lip and looking for any sores or color changes on your lips and gums; Repeating the same exercise for your lower lip
- Examining your inner cheeks for color changes or light or dark patches or lumps
- Use cotton gauze to move your tongue aside, checking for changes, then examining your tongue
- Opening your mouth wide, looking and feeling your tongue, and the hard and soft palates for any unusual signs
Regular dental checkups and oral cancer screenings increase the chance of early detection, which also improves the chance of succesful treatment. ¬†During your dental check up you should be receiving an intra/extra oral examination for detection of oral cancer. This examination is fast and pain less.
- Dr. Tongela Williams, Dentist, Beautiful Smiles-Clinton, MD