April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month and while the word cancer alone can elicit fears and anxiety, it’s important to be aware of the disease and the warning signs. 

Oral cancer is cancer that occurs anywhere in your mouth, whether it’s on the tongue, the lips, the gums, inside the cheek, or in the roof or floor of the mouth. 

Some symptoms include but are not limited to: 

  • Mouth sores or irritations
  • Red/white patches in the mouth
  • Pain, numbness
  • Chewing, swallowing, or speaking difficulties
  • Voice changes
  • Feeling like something is caught in your throat. 

These risk factors include:

  • Age: If you’re over 40, make sure your doctor checks for signs of oral cancer and that you stay on your dental hygiene regimen.
  • Excessive Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes or cigars, chewing tobacco are substantial contributors to oral cancer.
  • Excessive Alcohol Use: Alcohol converts into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages the body’s DNA and blocks cells from repairing the damage. 
  • Sun Exposure: Repeated sun exposure increases your risk of contracting cancer on your lips, especially the lower lip.
  • Diet: Not getting all the nutrients you need, from vegetables and fruits for instance, can weaken your immune system and make you vulnerable.

While many of these causes relate to lifestyle choices that we have control over, not everyone who develops oral cancer has these risk factors. Making changes to your lifestyle can be helpful, but please do not ignore potential symptoms because you feel that your lifestyle does not put you at risk.

Early detection and treatment are vital. Undetected, cancer will spread to other parts of the body and become too advanced for treatment. Regular visits to the dentist can be the first line of defense against oral cancer. Please contact Dr. Soto the Downey Dentist to book an appointment.

Schedule your spring-cleaning today!

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