April is a month when you can enjoy warmer weather, see more blooming flowers, and celebrate new life and hope. But did you know that April is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Although it doesn’t get as much attention as other more common cancers, oral cancer deserves some notice and proactive measures to make sure that you can stay healthy. This April, take the opportunity to learn more about this disease and what your dentist in Towson can do to help.
Numbers of Oral Cancer
In 2019, 53,000 people are estimated to be newly diagnosed with oral cancer. That’s 132 people diagnosed every day. Compared to the 268,600 women who are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, oral cancer may seem less significant. However, out of those whose oral cancer will be discovered this year, only a little more than half will likely be alive in five years. In fact, oral cancer claims one life every hour every day in the United States.
Signs of Oral Cancer
To the untrained eye, especially if you’re trying to look into your own mouth, some of the signs can be challenging to spot. But here are some of the symptoms of oral cancer:
- Lumps or bumps in the mouth, neck, or jaw.
- Patches of red, white, or speckled tissue.
- Areas where the tissue is thickened.
- Numbness in the tongue.
- Mouth or lip sores that don’t heal within two weeks.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Pain in chewing or swallowing.
If you do notice these symptoms, contact your doctor or dentist in Towson right away for an evaluation.
Oral Cancer Screenings
As your first line of detection, your dentist performs an oral cancer screening at every dental checkup and cleaning appointment. This visual and tactile oral exam is simple and only takes a few minutes. First, the dentist inspects your gums, tongue, and the soft and hard tissues on the inside of the your mouth. To see the back of your mouth, where oral cancer symptoms often show up, they may use gauze to hold and move your tongue. Then, they gently feel around your jaw. If they find something that concerns them, they can refer you to a doctor for more advanced testing.
Importance of Regular Oral Cancer Screenings
Believe it or not, the high mortality rate for oral cancer is not because it is difficult to diagnose. The reality is that oral cancer is often found during the later stages of development, after most of the damage is already done. On the other hand, when oral cancer is discovered and treated early, chances of survival jump up to 90 percent. That’s why getting screened for oral cancer on a regular basis is critical.
The little time it takes to have an oral cancer screening twice a year is worth it. After all, your oral cancer screening could end up saving your life! It’s just another reason to visit your dentist for your checkup and cleaning every six months. Even if you don’t have oral cancer, you can have more peace of mind about your health. If you do, hopefully this early detection means that you can enjoy many more years of a fulfilling life.
About the Practice
At Conklin & Ward Dental Group, patients in the Towson area have access to three talented dentists for their comprehensive dental care. From simple preventive checkups to complex implant placement and restoration, these doctors can meet nearly every dental need all under one roof. To schedule an appointment with them, you can call (410) 583-7010 or click here.