Routine oral cancer screenings are standard when you head into the dentist’s office, but not everyone sees their dentist regularly. Today, we’ll discuss some of the risk factors of oral cancer and its symptoms to explain the importance of oral cancer screenings.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Several factors can increase the risk of oral cancer. Whether you smoke or chew, tobacco use can increase your risk of mouth cancer. Additionally, heavy alcohol consumption makes you more vulnerable to this disease. Make sure to get a screening after you have excessive sun exposure to your mouth or lips, as UV exposure is another risk factor.
While avoiding these risk factors can reduce your chances of contracting oral cancer, about 30 percent of people with mouth cancer do not have these risk factors. Regular screenings are important even if you avoid these factors.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If you notice the following symptoms, make an appointment to see your dentist. These are all symptoms of oral cancer:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw stiffness
- Sore throat
- Painful swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Loose teeth
- Dentures that don’t fit right
- Tongue pain
- A growth or lump in your mouth
- Thickening of the skin of your mouth
- A sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal
The Screening Process
When you come in to see your dentist for a screening, they will begin with a visual inspection. They will look at your oral cavity, face, lips, neck, and the inside of your nose. Your dentist will look for bumps, asymmetry, swelling, ulcerations, and other abnormalities. If something is abnormal, you will likely be asked to return for more regular screenings.
Catch Oral Cancer Early
Should you ever notice an abnormality or unusual bump in your mouth, schedule an appointment for general dentistry in Los Angeles right away. The sooner you get the abnormality looked at, the sooner you can receive treatment. Oral cancer is not something you can or should wait out. When oral cancer is spotted in its early stages, it’s treatable.
Now that you understand the importance of oral cancer screenings, make an appointment to have a screening, especially if you have not had one in a while.