Did You Know That April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month?

Most people are unaware that more than 43,000 people are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer each and every year. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Great Lakes Dental joins dental professionals across the nation to promote awareness of this serious health issue. We hope that you and your family take this opportunity to learn more about the risk factors associated with oral cancer. And rest assured, that every dental hygiene appointment our professionals are screening your mouth for oral cancer.

What is Oral, or Mouth Cancer?

Simply put, oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the structures within the human mouth. As with many other types of cancer, everyone is at risk of developing oral cancer, but there are certain behaviors that can elevate that risk. Links have been made between the use of tobacco products and oral cancer, especially use of chewing tobacco. Alcohol use is also believed to increase the risk of oral cancer, especially when combined with tobacco use. New research has linked human papilloma virus (HPV) and mouth cancer, and it is believed that HPV will soon become the leading cause of oral cancer.

What are the Signs of Oral Cancer?

Any time that you notice an unusual condition within your mouth, the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with a dentist. The early signs of oral cancer can seem benign, such as a small but painless sore that is slow to heal, areas of red or white discoloration, or areas where mouth tissue has undergone changes in texture. Difficulty in normal mouth functions such as speaking, eating or swallowing can also be a sign of oral cancer.

What Should I do if I Notice These Signs?

The best approach is to schedule an appointment to have your dentist take a closer look. Oral health professionals are often the first care providers to notice the early signs of oral cancer and other types of oral disease. If your dentist is concerned, he or she can refer you to a specialist for additional screening. At Great Lakes Dental, oral cancer screenings are performed at each and every cleaning appointment.

At Great Lakes Dental, we believe that the best way to ensure great oral and dental health is by taking a proactive stance. This includes implementing and maintaining healthy habits, scheduling regular dental checkups, and coming in for additional screening when any abnormality is detected. By being aware of issues such as oral cancer, patients can get the screening necessary to ensure that they remain healthy.