April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and it’s the time of year to remind seniors and loved ones to visit the dentist. Did you know a routine visit to the dentist also includes a screening for oral cancer? While they look for signs of decay (cavities) and gum disease, they’re looking for typical warning signs of cancer in the mouth.
Possible signs of oral cancer are white or red patches in the mouth; persistent sores, ulcers, or irritation in the mouth cavity; difficulty in chewing, swallowing, moving the jaw or tongue; numbness in the tongue, a sore throat that does not go away; a constant toothache or pain in the jaw; or an earache. If you come across any of these signs, give your dentist a call right away. An early diagnosis can make a huge difference. Even if you don’t see any of the warning signs, you should still see your dentist twice a year for exams and routine cleanings, whether you have dentures or not.
Every day, 132 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer caused by lifestyle conditions, poor dental care and oral hygiene, age, poor nutrition, exposure to UV light, genetics and other medical conditions. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also contribute to oral cancer.
See your dentist, brush twice a day and floss daily to prevent oral cancer. Find a dentist at www.HawaiiDentalService.com/FindADentist.