April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month so now is the time to discuss how this disease can be prevented. Prevention is the first step toward reducing your risk of developing this disease. You can do that by scheduling a dental checkup that includes an oral cancer screening with the dentist in North York, Dr. Eli Shem-Tov. Read on to learn more about the risks oral cancer, the warning signs, and what’s included in a screening.
Lifestyle Risks and Oral Cancer
Risk factors may increase your chance for developing oral cancer, but most do not directly cause cancer. In fact, some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others without these factors do. Nevertheless, knowing your risk is important.
Consider the following—tobacco use, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco accounts for some 85 percent of all head, neck and oral cancers. Chewing tobacco or snuff is associated with a 50 percent increase in the risk of developing oral cancer, because tobacco has the most contact in your mouth. Add alcohol consumption and the risk increases even more.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of oral cancer include:
- HPV Infection
- Gender (men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women)
- Light skin color
- Age (people more than 45 years old are more susceptible to oral cancer than younger people)
- Poor oral hygiene
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Weakened immune system
- Marijuana use
Warning Signs for Oral Cancer
When you see Dr. Shem-Tov, your family dentist in North York, he and the dental hygienist are on the look out for certain signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. These include:
- A sore anywhere on your lips or in your mouth that bleeds or hasn’t healed in a couple of weeks
- A smooth or scaly patch of tissue that can be red or white
- A lump in any soft tissue in your mouth or neck
- Loose teeth
- Dentures that no longer fit well
- Ear pain without infection
- Trouble swallowing
- A numb spot inside or around your mouth
Oral Cancer Screening Steps
There are several steps included in an oral cancer screening. First, we will check the symmetry of your facial features. Then, we’ll examine the exterior and interior your lips, looking for lesions and lumps. The oral cavity is visually checked and we also palpate your neck, jaw and shoulder area to find lumps.
Contact Our Office Today
With an oral cancer screening during your regular dental checkup, you and Dr. Shem-Tov can help prevent this disease. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.