Know the Symptoms and Risks of Oral Cancer

| 7 min read

They’re always the first to know.” You might admit to saying that on occasion out of spite or otherwise.

But there’s one scenario where it’s best to defer to another’s “first-to-know” insight such as your dentist and their knowledge about oral cancer.

Dentists know the signs of oral cancer and are equipped to provide an essential oral cancer screening to stay ahead of any indicators you might have.

What is oral cancer and should you be concerned?

There are two categories of oral cancer. The condition can present within two specific areas of your body.

Around and within your mouth

Oral cancer can occur within a few common places in your mouth.

  • Your lips
  • Your gums
  • The front portions of your tongue
  • The floor and roof of your mouth
  • The insides of your cheeks

In your neck region

  • Your throat
  • Your tonsils
  • The back of your tongue

For good reason, your dentist is prepared to inform you about the potential for oral cancer.

”More than 54,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and aroundPullQuote_MouthCancer 11,000 die from it.” [1]

What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

Your routine dental check-ups and examinations are key to monitoring any oral cancer risks. Between dental visits it’s vital to be aware of any changes within your mouth or neck region.

For example,

  • Do you have a mouth sore or irritation that won’t heal?
  • Have you noticed red or white patches on your cheeks, tongue, or gums?
  • Are your lips, tongue, or mouth experiencing tenderness, pain, or numbness?
  • Do you feel a lump, thickened skin, or rough spots in your mouth?
  • Is it difficult to chew, swallow, or move your tongue or jaw?
  • Do your dentures or other dental restorations feel ill-fitting or loose?
  • Are you experiencing ongoing hoarseness or the sense that something is caught in your throat?

These are common indications for seeking a dental examination as soon as possible.

What increases your risk of oral cancer and what can you do to reduce the risk?

Lifestyle factors can enhance your oral cancer risk. It’s also been discovered that men tend to be affected more often than women along with older adults being at a higher risk as well.

Beyond those risk-related demographics it’s important to be aware of the following if you want to reduce your oral cancer risk.

  • Avoid tobacco - smokeless or smoking.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake and partake in moderation.
  • Awareness of sexually transmitted disease such as HPV (Human papillomavirus) and the availability of the HPV vaccine.

How can your dentist provide early detection of oral cancer?

Your first line of defense is having annual dental check-ups at least two times per year. And more often if you suspect an abnormality as noted earlier.

Your dentist can provide an oral cancer screening to check for any signs or symptoms before they worsen. The screening takes less than two minutes.

Here’s what you can expect during your brief oral cancer screening:

  • A visual check of the tissue in your mouth, on your tongue, and throat physically or with available screening tools.
  • A physical examination by gently touching the insides of your cheeks, gums, and portions of your tongue.

Should any tissue appear suspicious, your dentist could recommend a tissue biopsy and refer you to a specialist.

Keep in mind that a high percentage of oral cancer can be treated with early detection and follow-up treatment (if necessary).

All in all consistent dental visits are key to your overall dental health as well as being screened for oral cancer.

Start by sharing any symptoms or concerns with a licensed, online dentist.

  • Transparent consultations
  • Free scans
  • Convenient, time-saving access to low cost, virtual dental consultations
  • Connection to in-person dental care (such as teeth cleanings and oral cancer screenings) with dentists in your zip code

Stay current with your dental care using a cost-effective, convenient, and easy-to-use solution

The team of dental professionals are trained to identify, diagnose, and treat any dental condition. From toothaches to second opinions - you’re covered!

  • Access a 24 hour dentist now from your personal, private, and secure account.
  • Select a reason for your visit using a brief questionnaire.
  • Receive virtual dental care from a licensed dentist when you provide your issue details, any photos, and/or dental/health records.

Discover more about on our How it Works page. Or Register Now.