At Janet K. Song, DDS, we feel strongly about our patient’s oral health, including the very serious issue of oral cancer. During Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April, we will take the opportunity to educate our patients on the risk factors of developing oral cancer and what signs to look out for to ensure any problems are detected early.
Although this cancer affects 54,000 people in the US every year, and around 11,000 people die each year from it, if caught early it can be extremely treatable. Therefore it’s important that everyone is aware of this type of cancer that is often overlooked.
Signs You Might Have Oral Cancer
There are two main ways to spot the signs of oral cancer early — the first is to visit Dr. Song or Dr. Tran twice a year for their expert examination of your mouth for any early signs of oral cancer, and the second is to be aware of the symptoms yourself and to examine your mouth twice a month so you can organize a visit at our dental office in Fairfax as soon as you see any issues. Symptoms include:
Unexplained jaw, mouth, or ear pain
Feeling or seeing any white or red patches or lumps inside your mouth
Unexpected weight loss
Feeling your teeth are loose
Finding it difficult to swallow
Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away
Am I At a Higher Risk of Developing Oral Cancer
The truth is that anyone can get oral cancer, but there are certainly some things that can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer.
Age - being over the age of 55 can increase your risk
Gender - being male can double your chances of getting it
Other risk factors
Consuming too much alcohol and tobacco products
Having a poor diet
Being out in the sun without any SPF on your lips
Not having a healthy oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing
Having HPV (Human papillomavirus infection)
Your oral cancer screening is pain-free and part of your routine exam so you don’t need to worry about arranging an extra appointment. Our dental team in Fairfax, VA is here to answer any of your questions and urge you not to miss your check-up as it could be life-saving. Please share this with your loved ones so they know what to look out for too.