Cancer is everyone’s worst fear. That one word can rock your world, and in extreme cases, take your life. Today we’ll go over early warning signs that you may have oral cancer and review situations that put you at greater risk for a cancer diagnosis.
Early Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
- A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A growth or lump inside your mouth
- Mouth pain
- Ear pain
- Difficult or painful swallowing
If you are experiencing one or multiple of these ailments, especially if they persist for more than 2 weeks, it’s important to see your dentist. Some of these warning signs could be indicators of a completely different problem, but it’s important to see your dentist to determine the root cause. Your dentist will investigate the root cause and help you make wise health choices.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Alcohol and tobacco use greatly increase your risk of oral cancers. Tobacco and alcohol are full of various carcinogens. Moderate to excessive consumption of either can increase your risk of multiple cancers, oral cancer included. If possible, reduce or eliminate your substance abuse to reduce your risk.
As you age, your risk of oral cancer increases significantly. Only 25% of oral cancer cases occur in people younger than 55 years old. The average age for diagnosis is 62. That’s why it’s especially important to continue seeing your dentist regularly for your entire life. Even if you lose all your teeth, your dentist is an important health partner than can help you prevent bone loss, maintain facial structural integrity, and catch early warning signs of oral cancer.
Exposure to the Sun
Like many other cancers, your oral cancer risk increases with exposure to radiation, including radiation from the sun. Excessive or lifelong exposure to the sun’s radiation can increase your risk of developing cancer in your mouth or throat. Try to find lip balm with UV protection, wear hats with ample coverage, and avoid severe sunburns on your face and lips.
Disease and Weak Immune System
A weakened immune system makes your mouth vulnerable to a wide array of diseases, including cancer. Additionally, some other diseases can make your mouth more vulnerable to oral cancer, such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It may seem circular, but keeping your whole body healthy can make it easier to keep your whole body healthy. The more you invest in a healthy body, the easier your body can fight infection.
Concerned by mouth sores, discoloration or pain in your mouth? Schedule an appointment with our compassionate doctors today! We can help you discover the root cause of your symptoms and get treatment. The earlier you detect oral cancer, the greater your odds of beating it!