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How Should You Honor Oral Cancer Awareness Month?

April 4, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_carter @ 8:36 am
A ribbon illustration that symbolizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Many people see April as a cheery month; it sits in the middle of spring’s blooming flowers and trees. Still, this period isn’t all about sunshine and lollipops. April is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month – a time to note the dangers of oral cancer. Over these next few weeks, you’d be wise to honor and observe it. Your Lawrenceville dentist will even help out. Here’s a primer on oral cancer’s risk factors and signs, as well as how dentists screen for it.

What are Oral Cancer’s Risk Factors?

As you’d expect, oral cancer starts inside your mouth. It occurs when the oral cavity’s squamous cells grow, multiply, and spread over time. Given these traits, the condition’s main risk factors are:

  • Tobacco & Alcohol Use – Tobacco products contain carcinogens that cause cancer. Worse, drinking alcohol lets those carcinogens further permeate mouth tissues.
  • Genetics – In fact, those assigned male at birth are twice as likely to get oral cancer. Having a family history with it also puts you at risk.
  • Sun Exposure – Excess time in the sun without sunblock can cause cancer in your lips.
  • Age – Because it takes years to grow, most people find they have oral cancer after age 55.

There’s no way to prevent oral cancer with certainty. Still, managing its risk factors will greatly reduce your risk of getting it.

What About its Symptoms?

Often enough, oral cancer’s signs can make it resemble other mouth problems. This disease’s most common symptoms are the following:

  • Bleeding sores on your lip or inside your mouth
  • Lumps or thick patches in your mouth
  • Numbness, pain, or tenderness on your face
  • Rough or crusty areas on your lips or gums
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Loose teeth

How Do Dentists Screen for It?

While you may know its risk factors and signs, you can’t tell if you have oral cancer alone. You’ll need to see your local dentist for a screening. Their training and experience ensure you’ll get a proper diagnosis.

A dentist’s oral cancer screening involves a few steps. First, they’ll have you do an oral rinse with a cleansing solution. They’ll then use their tools to examine your mouth more closely. Lastly, the dentist will note and diagnose any problem areas and suggest possible treatment options.

Should a dentist diagnose you with oral cancer, don’t panic. They could catch the condition in its early stages – phases with an 80-90% cure rate. At the very least, they’ll refer you to a highly qualified cancer specialist.

During this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, stay aware of its namesake. You’ll then be ready to prevent and manage such cancers.

About the Practice

Transforming Smiles is based in Lawrenceville, GA. Led by Drs. Bruce Carter and Shariq Zafrani, our practice takes pride in its truly far-reaching dentistry. We offer preventive, cosmetic, and restorative services, as well as emergency dental care. Our office’s team will also screen you for oral cancer at each dental checkup! For more details or to book a visit, you can reach us on our website or by phone at (770)-995-7616.

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