April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 53,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year.

Smoking and tobacco use are the major risk factors; in fact, the typical profile of the person who develops oral cancer had always been someone who smoked and drank heavily. However, that profile is changing, and young, healthy, non-smoking individuals are fastest growing segment of the population that is diagnosed because of the spread of the HPV virus.

Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are often discovered late in their development. Regular examinations by dentists can often be the first line of defense in detecting oral cancers early.

Be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and see your dental professional if they do not disappear in two to three weeks:

  • A sore or irritation that does not go away
  • Red or white patches in the mouth or lips
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips
  • Lumps or thickening tissues
  • Rough spots, crusty or eroding areas
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

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