Oral Cancer Warning Signs You Need To Know

Call Us About Oral Cancer Screening Today 

  • Understand how to prevent oral cancer
  • Learn about symptoms that are cause for concern
  • Catch any issues before they become more serious
  • Learn how to perform symptom spot checks
  • Get peace of mind about the health status of your mouth.

Here’s a startling fact: More than 56,000 North Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and nearly 11,000 of those people will die as a result of it. By prioritizing your oral health, you can learn how to prevent the condition, what symptoms to watch for, and ensure that you start treatment as soon as possible. 

Here are some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer:

  • Bumps or lumps in your mouth that are swollen
  • Patches (red or white) in the mouth
  • Numbness or bleeding in the mouth or neck
  • Mouth sores that last longer than two weeks
  • Chewing, swallowing, or difficulty with moving the jaw
  • Ear pain
  • A cough that’s persistent
  • Problems with breathing
  • Changes in your voice (hoarseness usually)
  • Teeth that experience a change in how they fit together.

As with all health concerns, mouth changes are important to watch. Any out of the ordinary symptoms should be checked by your dentist in Baltimore to rule out oral cancer.

What causes oral cancer?

  1. A Weak Immune System – People with weakened immune systems are more at risk for this type of cancer, including those who’ve had an organ transplant or have an autoimmune disease (e.g. lupus, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, alopecia, vitiligo, psoriasis, etc.).
  2. Tobacco Use – Smoked or chewed, tobacco boosts your chances of developing oral cancer by six times.
  3. Your Diet – If you aren’t eating fruits and veggies, your risk for oral cancer is higher. Do your best to eat a variety of each, along with grains, which are great sources of vitamins and fibre.
  4. Drinking Alcohol – The higher your alcohol intake, the greater your risk as these liquids help harmful chemicals enter mouth, throat, and esophagus cells. Drinking and smoking at the same time boosts your risk even more.
  5. Being a cancer survivor – If you’ve had cancer in the past, there may be a chance that you’d develop cancer again. Talk to your cancer specialist or general practitioner about your risk factors.
  6. Exposure to the sun – Repeated exposure to the sun boosts your risk of developing lip cancer, and this is particularly applicable to those with fair skin and those who are outdoors for long periods of time on a daily basis. You can minimize your exposure by using sunscreen, wearing a hat with a wide brim, and applying a lip balm with SPF often.

What to expect during an oral cancer check

As you may or may not know, during each visit you make to our office, we conduct a thorough oral cancer exam, carefully inspecting your head, face, and neck. We assess all soft tissues: your cheeks, gums, throat, tongue (top and bottom), and the roof of your mouth (your palate – both soft and hard). As we look, we may have questions about whether you are or have experienced numbness or unusual bleeding, a change in your voice (any hoarseness), if you’ve had any significant differences in your eating ability to eat, or in how your teeth fit together.

How to perform a monthly oral cancer self-assessment

In good lighting and while looking at a good-sized mirror, take your time and do the following:

  1. Remove any full or partial dentures, if you wear them.
  2. Look for any changes in the lips and front gums area.
  3. Check the roof of your mouth visually, then feel with your index finger for any texture changes. Use a light touch.
  4. Check your gums at cheeks at the back of your mouth by pulling your cheeks out and assessing the inner cheek. Pay attention to any changes in texture, including rough spots, lumps or bumps. Then, look at your gums and run your finger lightly on them to assess their texture.
  5. Examine your tongue after using a washcloth to pull your tongue forward. Check its top and bottom, and assess the floor of your mouth.
  6. Do a lymph node check on the outside of your face, and feel under your jaw and on each side of your neck for enlargement. If you notice swelling, try not to panic – it’s normal for them to swell when fighting off a minor virus.

Oral Cancer Screenings

Conducting oral cancer checks is an important part of the care we provide at Smile Studio Dentistry of Baltimore. Call us at (410) 469-7407 today to schedule an assessment that will ensure your mouth health is in top form!