This Annual Observance Aims to Prevent Cancer
April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, and while we continue to limit our practice to only emergency dental visits during this time of uncertainty, our patients’ health and wellbeing remain our top priority.
Due to continued concerns about COVID-19, the usually free oral cancer screenings that occur nationally this month have been canceled. However, that doesn’t mean we should forget about what can be a serious condition.
Who’s at Risk
Oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer, and more than 50,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
Obvious high-risk factors such as heavy tobacco use and alcohol consumption account for a number of oral cancers; however, an increasing number of cases are being seen in young, healthy, non-smoking individuals, which experts attribute to the HPV virus, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Other risk factors include a weakened immune system and excessive sun exposure of the lips.
The American Academy of Oral Medicine advises people to be aware of the following symptoms between regularly-scheduled visits to the dentist, if they bother you and last for more than two weeks:
• A sore, soreness, or irritation that does not go away
• Red or white patches, pain, or tenderness in your mouth or on your lip
• A lump growing inside your mouth
• Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
• A change in the way your teeth align when you close your mouth
Keep in mind, these symptoms are not definitive signs of oral cancer and might be the result of other conditions such as allergy or infection. That’s why it’s important to see your dentist or other healthcare professional for a screening.
Early Detection is Key
As with most cancers and other serious conditions, early detection is critical to successful treatment. The earlier cancer is caught – before it has a chance to spread to surrounding tissues – the easier it is to treat.
MW Dentistry is Here for You
Because it can be detected early and the mouth is one of the body’s early warning systems, your dentist is your first line of defense against oral cancer. Be aware and be safe. MW Dentistry provides general and cosmetic dentistry along with tooth repair and replacement and can answer your questions about oral cancer.
We look forward to actively seeing our patients again once the current situation is over, but if you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call us at (765) 643-5356 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Molly.