One of the most frightening of all dental concerns is oral cancer. There are many symptoms that can point early on to possible cancer or other serious dental problems that could make you more susceptible to cancer. Recognizing the oral cancer symptoms so they are not ignored is important, and our team of skilled and experienced Naperville dentists knows what to look for and how to tell if you are at risk for developing oral cancer. Here is what you need to know:
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Some of the most common oral cancer symptoms and signs include:
· The most common symptom is a mouth sore that does not heal or go away
· Persistent mouth pain commonly comes with the growth of cancer
· A lump or thickening of the tissue in the cheek or lips
· Patches of irritated tissue on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or mouth
· A sore throat or feeling like something stuck in the throat that doesn’t get better
· Difficulty, eating, swallowing, talking, or chewing
· Difficulty moving the lips, jaw, or tongue or having extreme pain when doing so
· Numbness in any area of the mouth that was not previous numb
· Jaw swelling that makes dental implants and prosthetics fit poorly or painfully
· Loosening of the teeth or sudden loss of teeth
· Pain that radiates from or through the teeth or jaw to other areas of the mouth
· Voice changes that suddenly occur or come and go without explanation
· A lump that forms in the neck or throat or jaw area
· Weight loss that is drastic or unexpected
· Persistent bad breath caused by cancer and decay in the mouth
If any of these oral cancer symptoms present themselves and linger for more than a few weeks without improving or they worsen, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible. These are the important oral cancer symptoms that you need to be on the lookout for and report to your Naperville dentists!
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
There are a number of things that can make one more prone to developing oral cancer in their lifetime. If you have any of these risk factors then you need to be even more aware and watchful for oral cancer symptoms:
Gender: Some types of oral cancer are more likely to occur in men than in women, primarily due to the likelihood of heavier tobacco and alcohol consumption.But this does not mean that women too cannot become victims of oral cancer.
Age: The average age of individuals who are diagnosed with oral cancer symptoms is 62, and two-thirds of those with oral cancer are over age 55. Oral cancer can strike at any age but the longer you have been exposed to toxins the greater your chances are.
Ultraviolet light: Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips and this is commonly seen in individuals who work outdoors in the sun for prolonged periods of time. This is why protection is vital to ensure your health and wellness.
Genetic syndromes: Some cancers are inherited and if there are oral cancers in your family then you may also be at a risk of developing it too. This is why oral cancer screening is often recommended, especially when there is a family history of cancer.
Fanconi anemia: This blood condition is inherited and is caused by mutated genes and the presence of this condition can make someone more prone to oral cancer. Your dentist can help ensure you get proper testing for these genetic risks factors.
Dyskeratosis congenita: Also known as aplastic anemia, this genetic disorder carries a very high risk of mouth and throat cancer – especially at an early age! Younger people are more likely to develop oral cancer from this disease.
Tobacco use: A staggering 80-85% of those with oral cancer symptoms are tobacco users, whether it is chew, snuff, or smokes and the use of tobacco worsen symptoms. One of the best things you can do for your health is to quit all tobacco products!
Alcohol: As many as 70-75% of people who end up with oral cancer are heavy drinkers and the use of both tobacco and alcohol increases the risk exponentially! Giving up alcohol or working to drastically reduce consumption will go a long way in keeping you healthy!
Repeat injury: individuals who suffer repeat injuries to the mouth area may have more oral cancer symptoms and a higher risk for developing some sort of oral cancer. Atheletes and construction workers are among those at the highest risk for this type of issue.
(HPV): Human papilloma viruses includes over 100 similar viruses, any of which cause warts, but there are some that cause a variety of cancer including oral cancers which makes it a terrifying condition.
Immune system suppression: Some drugs and therapies and immune system disorders like HIV among others can make the body more prone to other types of cancer- it is important to discuss other health issues and medications with your dentist!
Lichen planus: This disease usually manifests as white lines or spots on the tissue of the mouth and throat and tongue and can lead to oral cancer symptoms. Your dentist can help you keep an eye out for warning signs of this condition.
Contact Your Dentist Today
When you need help taking care of your teeth and your mouth in general, it is important to work closely with your dentist. They can help you with a care plan that is right for you and your unique needs. It is also important to keep all scheduled dental appointments- this is because your dentists will be able to catch warning signs early on and will also be able to determine if you are at risk for oral cancer. They will know if you need oral cancer screening and can help you set one up. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have and set your mind at ease before, during, and after you get the results!