April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Mar 31 2023

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Distinctive Dental Solutions wishes to draw attention to the importance of regular dental checkups. Catching signs of cancer early increases the chances of a successful treatment, which is why routine oral cancer screenings should be completed every three years in adults aged 40 or older. Each visit to the dentist is an opportunity to check for signs of disease. Cancer of the head and neck is the sixth most common type, and some people are at a higher risk than others. Plan on visiting a dentist for a thorough exam. 

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, refers to cancer that develops anywhere in the oral cavity. Oral cancer can form on the gums, lips, tongue, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and under the tongue in the form of sores, discolored patches, and abnormal bumps. This type of cancer is just one of several kinds of head and neck cancers. 

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Sores that don’t heal
  • White or red patches inside the mouth
  • Lumps or growths inside of the mouth
  • Pain in mouth or ears
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing

Let our dentists know if you have any of these symptoms for greater than two weeks. We can investigate other potential causes, like an infection. 

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer occurs when DNA in cells in the mouth or lips mutate. DNA essentially acts as the instructions that tell how a cell should grow. Healthy cells would die, but cancerous cells continue to divide. These accumulating cells form a tumor and can spread to other parts of the body. Oral cancers are typically squamous cell carcinomas that form in the flat cells lining your lips and inside your mouth. The root cause of cancer isn’t clear, but several factors can put you at risk:

  • Tobacco use, including cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff
  • Frequent alcohol consumption
  • Sun exposure to lips
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A compromised immune system 

Preventing Oral Cancer

While there’s no proven method to preventing oral cancer, you can reduce the risk by taking these steps: 

  • Don’t use tobacco, or if you already do, stop using it. Tobacco contains carcinogens, so avoiding these products entirely is recommended. 
  • Avoid alcohol, and drink in moderation. Exposing your mouth to heavy amounts of alcohol can irritate the tissues and make them vulnerable to cancer. 
  • Protect your lips from sun exposure by staying in the shade and wearing a lip product that contains an SPF factor.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral exams. We can spot the signs of oral cancer early so you can protect your health. 

Visit Our Dentists to Learn More About Oral Cancer Screenings

Lowering your risk of oral cancer is possible by making healthy decisions and visiting a dentist for an oral cancer screening. Our team at Distinctive Dental Solutions delivers compassionate dental care that you and your family can rely on. Call us today to schedule an appointment. 



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