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Doing Our Part For Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week
Apr 6, 2017

oral, head and neck cancer awareness Dental Care Center'

April 2-9 is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. During this week each year, oncologists around the U.S. give free screenings. The Dental Care Center wants to do our part as well. We are constantly checking for early signs of oral cancer, but you probably didn’t notice. We will explain what we do later in this post.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

First, it’s very important to know the signs and symptoms of this type of cancer. Make sure to tell us during your next visit if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Long-term irritation or sores
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness in your mouth or lips
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Lumps, thickened spots, or erosion
  • Red and white patches
  • Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit when you close your mouth

You may mistake one of these symptoms for the common cold or virus. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, let us know. Early detection is key and will result in better treatment options, which may save your life.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that contribute to the rise of oral cancer in Americans. Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include:

  • Smoking cigarettes/cigars and using smokeless tobacco (dip, snuff, or chew)
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Previous or family history of cancer
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease but has been linked to throat cancer at the back of the mouth.

What can you do to prevent oral cancer from occurring? Be aware of these risk factors and visit with us regularly.

Oral Cancer Screening

The Dental Care Center has dentists that are trained to identify certain characteristics of oral cancer. You probably never noticed, or didn’t realize that we were checking, but it is a vital part of our examination of every patient. The first step to identifying any signs of oral cancer is to ask our patients if they have had any changes in their medical history. This is your chance to let us know if you are experiencing any cancer-like symptoms.

Then, we check your neck and oral cavity. This includes your throat, lips, gums, tongue, cheek lining, and the floor/roof of your mouth. We look for any tender, rough, or discolored areas in your mouth. We also feel your throat and jaw for any lumps or abnormalities that may be a result of cancer.  If we do find cancer-like symptoms in your mouth, we may ask you to come back in a week or two to see if your symptoms have cleared on their own. If they haven’t, then we will refer you to further examination. The most important thing is to stay calm. We will work together and plan a strategy that is best for you. If you have had oral cancer in the past, make sure you keep visiting us regularly so we can keep track of any changes and keep you and your mouth healthy.

Contact one of our five locations to schedule an appointment today. Let us know if you are experiencing any oral cancer-like symptoms and The Dental Care Center will give you a thorough examination.