While oral cancer doesn’t receive the same national attention as breast, prostate, and lung cancer, the disease actually has a significantly higher mortality rate, resulting in 13,500 deaths a year in the U.S. alone. With such a high mortality rate, we believe one of our primary duties as a family dentist in Canon City is to educate all our patients about the dangers they face from this deadly disease.
Why a higher percentage of people with oral cancer die when compared to other common forms of the disease has nothing to do with oral cancer being more dangerous or deadly, it’s simply due to the disease going undiagnosed for longer thereby allowing it to spread unchecked.
If the symptoms of a disease are not widely known, it’s easier for people to miss the signs that should send them into the dentist’s office for a checkup. When patients fail to keep their regularly scheduled dental checkups they also miss having one of our dentists at Main Street Dental performing an oral cancer screening, which can easily spot the disease early on.
Symptom of Oral Cancer
Here are a few of the most common symptoms for oral cancer:
- Oral sores that never heal
- Oral sores that bleed
- A lump, growth, or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Dentures that no longer properly fit
- Unexplained tongue pain
- Jaw stiffness or pain
- Painful or trouble chewing
- Painful or trouble swallowing
- Persistent sore throat
While some of these symptoms can be caused by other underlying conditions, you should not ignore any persistent oral health problem that could threaten your long-term health.
When to Visit Your Family Dentist in Canon City
You need to make an appointment to see a member of our staff if you have any persistent symptoms and signs that bother you that last for more than two weeks. Our doctors will investigate the cause of your discomfort and rule out any common causes for your symptoms such as an infection. If further cause for concerns exists, we take all necessary steps to determine your diagnosis and protect your health.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
While the risk of oral cancer is relatively low for most patients, you may have an elevated risk for the disease depending on a few well established risk factors that include:
- Use of tobacco, including chewing tobacco, pipes, cigars, and cigarettes
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure to your lips
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- A weakened immune system
If you knowingly have any of these risk factors for the disease, make sure to inform our doctors during your oral cancer screening.