Our office will be closed on Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th for Thanksgiving. We will return to normal business hours on Monday the 27th.

Oral Cancer Awareness: Know the Signs, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Oral cancer risk demonstration with cigarette in mouth model, highlighting smoking dangers, for Wells Family Dental Group's Oral Cancer Awareness

April marks Oral Cancer Awareness Month, an opportune time to shed light on a critical health issue that affects thousands yearly. As part of our commitment to promoting oral health, Wells Family Dental Group, with locations in Raleigh and Wake Forest, NC, emphasizes the importance of recognizing the early signs of oral cancer, understanding the risk factors, and implementing preventive measures.

Understanding Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, part of head and neck cancers, begins in the mouth or throat tissues. It can manifest in various areas, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment, making awareness and regular dental check-ups imperative.

Know the Signs

The early stages of oral cancer may not be painful or noticeable, which is why being vigilant about changes in your mouth is vital. Key signs to watch for include:

  • Persistent sores or ulcers in the mouth that do not heal within two weeks
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • White or red patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Swelling, lumps, or bumps inside the mouth or neck area
  • Sudden weight loss or persistent bad breath

Should you notice any of these symptoms, consulting with a dental professional as soon as possible is essential.

Risk Factors

Certain lifestyle choices and conditions can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. These include:

  • Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Prolonged sun exposure to the lips
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Age, particularly individuals over 40

Prevention and Early Detection

Preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of oral cancer. Regular dental check-ups, at least twice a year, allow for early detection of abnormal changes in the mouth. During these visits, dentists can perform oral cancer screenings, a simple process that can save lives.

In addition to regular dental visits, adopting a healthy lifestyle is pivotal. This includes quitting tobacco products, moderating alcohol consumption, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and using lip balm with SPF to protect against sun damage.

Wells Family Dental Group’s Commitment

At Wells Family Dental Group, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of our patients. Our locations, including Wells Family Dental Group – Ten Ten Rd., North Raleigh, Louisburg Rd., Brier Creek, Gateway Commons, and LOREN Dental, offer comprehensive oral cancer screenings as part of our routine dental check-ups. We believe in the power of education and preventive care in the fight against oral cancer.

During Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and throughout the year, we encourage you to take charge of your oral health. Schedule your dental check-up and screening today, and take a step towards a healthier future.

Let’s stand together in the fight against oral cancer. Awareness is the first step to prevention.

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