According to the American Cancer Society, over 53,000 cases of oral cancer will be detected this year alone. Unfortunately, subsequent studies have found that 24% of patients said their dentist didn’t speak with them about risk factors at their last appointment and only 36% reported that they were screened for oral cancer. Since the survival rate doubles with early intervention, it is more important now than ever to be aware of what makes you vulnerable and how to minimize your risk!
7 Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
Despite its prevalence, extensive research is still underway on the exact causes of oral cancer. However, experts have concluded that certain risk factors leave patients vulnerable. These behaviors and conditions include:
- Use of tobacco products (i.e., cigarettes, pipes, etc.).
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Sun exposure.
- Patients over the age of 45.
- Exposure to radiation.
- Having another type of head or neck cancer.
6 Common Symptoms
If you or a loved one is considered at-risk of oral cancer, it is important to be aware of the symptoms. That way, you can seek treatment when the first signs arise. Therefore, keep an eye out for:
- Red or white sores on the gums, tonsils, or lining of the mouth.
- Swelling in your neck.
- A lump in your cheek.
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving your mouth.
- Unintended weight loss.
- Constant bad breath.
How You Can Minimize Your Risk
Considering the significant number of cases diagnosed each year and the potentially fatal consequences, it is important to be intentional about minimizing your risk. Priority number one is to never start smoking or quit if you currently do. From there, make sure to eat a balanced diet, limit your sun exposure, practice good oral health habits, and avoid the other common risk factors. Finally, visit your dentist every six months to ensure that warning signs of oral cancer are detected in the early stages.
If you are overdue for your bi-yearly visit or can’t remember the last time you got an oral cancer screening, there is no time like the present to schedule an appointment with your dentist. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing your oral and overall health is in tip-top shape!
About the Practice
Brown & Nawrocki Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry is built on high-quality dentistry and world-class care. At their state-of-the-art office, patients can enjoy flexible hours, a comprehensive array of services, and an in-house prosthodontist on staff. Plus, each member of their team is united by their mission to keep your smile beautiful and your oral health in pristine condition. If you would like to schedule an oral cancer screening, don’t hesitate to visit their website or give them a call at 386-677-1046.