As April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Andolino and our team would like to educate you on the signs and risks of oral cancer, as well as encourage you to visit your regular dentist for an oral cancer screening. Our orthodontist and team stress the importance of caring for all aspects of your oral health.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer include cancers of the lip, mouth, back of the throat, tonsils and salivary glands. Like most cancers, oral cancer can be fatal. If oral cancer is not detected early, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery may be needed. Because of this, it is very important to be aware of oral cancer and its signs and symptoms.
What Are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
Sometimes the early signs of oral cancer aren’t easy to detect, which is why it is important to visit your regular dentist often. Your dentist has the skills necessary to detect early warning signs of oral cancer. However, there are some signs that you can watch for between dental visits:
– Unexplained loss of feeling or numbness in the mouth
– A sore on the lips, gums or inside of your mouth that doesn’t heal
– A lump or thickening in your cheek
– Unexplained soreness in the mouth
– A feeling that something is caught in your throat
– White or red patches on the tongue, gums or inside your mouth
– Trouble swallowing or chewing food
– Swelling in the jaw
– A change in your voice
– A change in your bite
Who Is at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are several factors that may increase the risk of oral cancer. These include:
– Gender – Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women.
– Age – In most cases, oral cancer is diagnosed in individuals who are 55 or older. However, oral cancer can also occur in those who are younger.
– Tobacco – Chewing or smoking tobacco increases the risk of oral cancer dramatically. Smoking can cause both oral cancer and cancers in other areas of the body. Chewing tobacco can lead to oral cancer of the cheeks, gums and lips.
– Alcohol – According to studies, 7 of ten oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. Those who are both heavy drinkers and heavy smokers increase their risk of oral cancer significantly.
– Diet – A diet that is low in fruits and vegetables can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Keep in mind that if you have one of these risk factors, you will not necessarily develop oral cancer.
What Should I Expect During Oral Cancer Screenings?
Dentists perform an oral cancer screening during a regular cleaning and exam appointment. During your screening, your face, neck, lips, nose and oral cavity will be examined for swellings, bumps, patches of color or other abnormalities. A light and mirror may be used to allow your dentist to examine all areas of your mouth.
After or during the visual portion of the screening, your dentist will feel the head and cheeks, around your jaw, in the oral cavity and under the chin to check for abnormalities like nodules or masses.
We invite you to contact Andolino Orthodontics PC at (212) 753 - 5575 to learn more about oral cancer screening in New York, New York, or to schedule your next visit with our orthodontist in New York, New York.