Oral Cancer Awareness: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention

Know The Signs Of Oral Cancer For Early Prevention

The mere mention of the word cancer can send chills down any dental patient’s spine. Cancer is a terrifying disease that has impacted countless lives. However, it’s important to remember that with early detection and proper treatment, many forms of cancer, including oral cancer, can be successfully treated. 

That’s why raising awareness about oral cancer—its signs, symptoms, and prevention strategies— is vital. At Aesthetic Dental Associates, Dr. Robert E. Johnson in Seattle wants patients to understand the warning signs of cancer for early treatment and increased survival rates. 

Call (206)682-3888 today to schedule a preventative screening appointment at our Seattle dental office. Getting an oral cancer screening once a year can save your life. 

What Is Oral Cancer?woman looking at her teeth in pain in the mirror

Oral cancer is uncontrolled, malignant cellular growth that affects the mouth, lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, sinuses, and the hard and soft palates (the roof of your mouth). It often starts as a tiny, seemingly harmless white or red spot or sore inside the mouth. As cancer grows and spreads, it can manifest as a lump, thickening, crust, or painless, rough spot in the oral cavity.

Fortunately, our Seattle dentist offers oral cancer screenings at your biannual dental cleaning appointments. Early cancer detection can make treatment more successful. 

Who’s At Risk For Oral Cancer?

While oral cancer can affect anyone, certain groups are more susceptible to developing this type of cancer. It’s most commonly found in individuals over 40, particularly those who smoke or use other tobacco products, including chewing tobacco. 

Additionally, heavy alcohol consumption can significantly increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Interestingly, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer compared to women. But it’s important to note that oral cancer can strike anyone, regardless of gender or age.

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

One of the challenges with oral cancer is that its early signs and symptoms can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other, less serious conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to be vigilant and seek professional medical attention if you notice any of the following:

  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth that persist for more than two weeks and don’t seem to be healing
  • Lumps or thickened areas in the oral cavity
  • Rough spots or crusts on the lips, gums, or inside the mouth
  • Numbness, pain, or tenderness in the mouth or lips
  • Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, or inside the cheeks
  • Persistent difficulty or discomfort when chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Unexplained ear pain

If you experience these symptoms, schedule an appointment with our  Seattle dentist as soon as possible. Delaying a professional evaluation or hoping that the issue will be resolved on its own can lead to lower chances of successful treatment.

Prevention is Key

While oral cancer can be a formidable foe, there are effective strategies that can help reduce your risk of developing this condition.

Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol Intake

The most impactful preventive measure is to avoid all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices. Limiting alcohol consumption can also significantly lower your chances of developing oral cancer.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help prevent oral cancer. These nutrient-dense foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help strengthen your body’s defenses against cancer.

Use Lip SPF

Another crucial preventive measure is to use lip balm with built-in sunscreen protection. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can increase your risk of developing lip cancer, a type of oral cancer.

Self Examinations

Regular self-examinations can help individuals become familiar with their oral health and notice any changes quicker, allowing for an appointment with their healthcare provider before the cancer progresses. 

Visit Our Seattle Dentistwoman looking at her new smile at the dental office

Finally, schedule regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings with Dr. Robert E. Johnson. During these appointments, our dentist in Seattle will thoroughly examine your mouth, looking for any signs or symptoms of oral cancer. Early detection is key to successfully treating oral cancer, so these regular screenings can be life-saving.

Take Action: Call Aesthetic Dental Associates Today

If you’ve noticed any suspicious spots, sores, lumps, or other unusual changes in your mouth, take action immediately. Don’t delay or assume that the issue will resolve on its own. Instead, call our Seattle  dentist right away at (206)682-3888 to schedule an appointment for a thorough examination.

Remember, catching oral cancer early gives you the best possible chance of beating it. By being proactive and seeking professional medical attention at the first sign of trouble, you can take control of your oral health and potentially live a longer, healthier life.