April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Regular visitors to our blog know that we are concerned about gum disease and tooth decay. These are routine concerns of general dentistry, and they certainly cause a lot of problems for a lot of people.

But those aren’t the only things we look for when you come to our office for a professional dental cleaning and examination. We also look for signs of oral cancer.

We know that early detection greatly improves your odds of fighting this kind of cancer, and we would rather catch it early to help you or any of the patients who visit our dentist office in Fredericksburg, VA.

If you haven’t scheduled your next cleaning with Lloyd F. Moss Jr., D.D.S., F.A.G.D. or Lloyd F. Moss III, D.D.S., today would be a good time to plan your next visit.

Increasing Awareness

Oral cancer may not be the most common type of cancer, but it is enough of a problem to take some time to learn more about it. Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we decided this would be a good time to share some facts about this disease with you.

Every year, more than 42,000 people are diagnosed with this kind disease. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, 132 people will find out that they have this condition every day.

Sadly, around 9,000 people will die because from oral cancer this year. That is around one person per hour.

We don’t want any of our patients to be in those statistics. We also want you to know how to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer and how you can determine if you need to get checked.

Knowing The Risks

In a vast majority of cases (93 percent), one or more causes can be identified for why a person has developed oral cancer, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation.

Knowing these causes can help you know what you can do to reduce your risk of developing this disease.

Here are a few tips:

◆ Don’t Use Or Quit Using Tobacco

You won’t be surprised to learn that tobacco use is the leading cause of oral cancer in the United States.

Tobacco products have been found to contain more than 70 chemicals that are known to be carcinogens. These chemicals can be absorbed into the soft tissues of your mouth.

In the U.S., 75 percent of people who are diagnosed with oral cancer after age 50 are tobacco users. And it’s not just smoking that is the problem.

One study found that smokeless tobacco users were 14 times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who do not use tobacco. That same study found that long-term smokeless tobacco users (25 years or more) were 50 times more likely to be diagnosed.

Quitting tobacco is hard, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Talk to your doctor or call 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848) to get started.

◆ Don’t Use Or Limit Your Use Of Alcohol

People who have an average of 3.5 drinks per day are up to three times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-drinkers.

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, one of the problems with alcohol occurs when our bodies break down the ethanol into acetaldehyde. This is considered a toxic chemical.

Alcohol use also compounds the problems associated with tobacco use. Because alcohol dries out the soft tissues in our mouths, those tissues can more quickly absorb the chemicals found in tobacco products.

◆ Get Vaccinated Against HPV

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted to 80 percent of Americans. In 99 percent of people, the virus poses no real danger, but for 1 percent it can lead to oral, cervical, and other cancers.

Scientists have developed vaccines, but they are only effective if you receive the vaccine before you have HPV. Talk to your doctor to find out if you or someone you love could benefit from getting vaccinated.

Learn The Symptoms

When you are in our office, we will look for the signs of oral cancer.

But we want you to know what to watch for if you notice something unusual at home. Visit your doctor if you notice these symptoms:

  • Red, white, or both kinds of discoloration of the soft tissues in your mouth
  • Sores that do not heal after two weeks
  • Lingering hoarseness
  • Feeling like something is stuck in your throat
  • Lumps in your mouth or neck
  • Problems swallowing or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Ear pain on just one side of your head
  • Feeling numb in or around your mouth

Be Proactive

Take steps to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. We want you to be a regular visitor to our Fredericksburg, VA, dentist office for years and decades to come.

Lloyd F. Moss Jr., D.D.S., F.A.G.D. or Lloyd F. Moss III, D.D.S. will watch for the symptoms of oral cancer as part of your routine dental cleanings and examinations.

If you haven’t already scheduled your next exam, call (540) 369-4926 or fill out our online form.