Someone in America dies from oral cancer every hour. More than 48,000 are diagnosed each year, and for many of them it will be too late. The early signs and symptoms of this form of cancer are often missed. By the time you are diagnosed with oral cancer, it may have progressed and left you in more danger. Our dentist in Laguna Niguel wants you to know what to look for in order to keep your mouth healthy.
The best way to ward off oral cancer is with regular cancer screenings and preventative dentistry with Dr. Huefner. If you're in need of a dental exam or are worried you may be showing signs of oral cancer, call our general and cosmetic dentistry office in Laguna Niguel today at (949) 491-9071.
Oral cancer can present on many surfaces inside and outside of your mouth. Look for these symptoms and signs on all sides of your lips, gums, tongue and the top and bottom of your mouth:
- Bumps or lumps
- Eroded, crusted or rough spots
- White or red splotches
- Inexplicable bleeding in your mouth
- Sores on your mouth, face or neck that easily bleed and persist after several weeks
- Trouble talking, swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
- Chronic sore throat
- Vocal changes
- Pain in your ears
- Shifting teeth or dentures
- Rapid weight loss
If you notice any of these signs, contact Dr. Huefner as soon as possible to schedule your exam. These symptoms may not always point to cancer. You could also have gum disease and require periodontal treatment. We offer sedation dentistry in order to make you as comfortable as possible during your dental care appointments.
There are several ways to prevent the development of oral cancer and protect your health, but sometimes your family history has other plans. Avoid these risk factors to reduce your chances of oral cancer:
- Heavy drinking
- Excessive exposure to the sun or UV light.
Caution: Specific strains of HPV (Human papillomavirus) make you 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer. See your doctor for regular HPV tests.
These health issues and habits do up your chances of developing oral cancer by quite a bit, but a quarter of those diagnosed have never smoked and rarely drink. Risk factors don't necessarily always lead to cancer.
Preventative Care Self-Exams
The best way to recognize and avoid symptoms of oral cancer is through oral cancer screenings with Dr. Huefner, but you can also practice at-home oral exams once a month. Follow these tips and call our office if you notice any abnormalities:
- Stand in a bright area in front of a mirror.
- Feel your lips, front gums and the roof of your mouth for the symptoms mentioned above.
- Look along the lining of your cheeks and the back of your gums for alterations in texture and sensitivity. Use the mirror to search for discoloration or other changes.
- Hold your tongue with a cloth or tissue and study all sides for irregularities.
- Search the floor of your mouth for signs of oral cancer, such as: bumps, swelling or unexplained bleeding.
- Check the back of your throat and feel along the sides of your neck and jaw for lumps or swollen lymph nodes.
If you notice any changes in your dental health, please call Dr. Huefner immediately at (949) 491-9071 to schedule your oral cancer screening today. Our office serves patients in Laguna Niguel, Orange County, Irvine and Newport Beach, California as well as surrounding areas of Southern California.