As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Did you also know that April is designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month? This year marks the 23rd official observance.
At Crown Dental, we want to do our part to promote awareness about oral cancer and urge our patients to prioritize their oral health and consistent care.
Why Observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month?
Whether in April or any other month, acknowledging and understanding the reality of oral cancer is critical.
It all comes down to this grim statistic: “Every hour, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, someone dies of oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the oral cavity and upper throat).”
The real shame is that, when detected early, this kind of cancer is very treatable.
What Exactly is Oral Cancer?
Compared to other types of cancers and the prevalence of other types of cancer in your own family history, you might be as familiar with oral cancer.
In this case, the cancer can appear on any part of your oral cavity, including your upper throat, which is why this disease is also sometimes referred to as oral cavity cancer or mouth cancer.
No matter what it is called, it typically presents as “white patchy” or sometimes red sores.
Signs to Watch Out For
Whenever you brush your teeth, take a moment to check your:
- Inner cheeks
- Floor of the mouth
- Roof of the mouth
As you check, be aware of the following signs and symptoms:
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Swelling or pain in the jaw
- Unexplained numbness or pain in the mouth, face, jaw, or neck
- A change in the way your teeth/dentures fit in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Ear pain
- Difficulty swallowing
Cancer is classified by groupings, which helps determine how it is treated. For instance, oral cancer is a part of the head and neck cancer group. Depending on how advanced the disease is, treatment options might include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or targeted therapy drugs.
Master these Prevention Tips
There are no proven ways to prevent yourself from getting oral cancer. However, there are helpful ways to help lessen your odds or assist with early detection.
- Kick the habit: Smoking is connected to developing oral cancer. Lessening or — better yet — eliminating tobacco use could help reduce your odds of a diagnosis.
- Sip smarter and snack on the full rainbow spectrum. In other words, drink less alcohol and eat more bright-colored fruits and vegetables. A poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption might increase the likelihood of developing this particular cancer.
- Be vigilant when it comes to your oral health and any changes in your mouth.
Hey, that’s what this month is for, right?
Keeping aware and alert for symptoms is a smart preventive strategy, as is checking in with your dental hygienist and dentist regularly.
If something is not feeling right, the Crown Dental team is here to help you.
The Royal Treatment and Services
Regular cleanings are a great way for our dental hygienist team to stay up to date with what is going on in your mouth. If there is a sign that something is off, we have a better chance at catching it early if you schedule your cleanings on a regular basis — meaning every 6 months.
Something suddenly feeling really awful? We also offer emergency services at Crown. Don’t wait or attempt to ride it out until regular office hours. Give us a call right away and let us help put your mind at ease, 24/7.
Go ahead and schedule that cleaning or get on our calendar for any other oral health questions and concerns!