April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. It is estimated that oral cancer will effect an estimated 37,000 Americans each year. Studies show that the chance of surviving oral cancer is 80 to 90% if you catch it in its early stages.
While a cancer screening by your dentist is always best, doing self-exams at home can increase the likelihood that an oral cancer can be detected early. Look inside your mouth in a mirror and feel the insides of your mouth, lips and gums. Don’t forget to look at the upper part of your mouth as well and your tongue and it’s surfaces.
According to mayoclinic.org:
There’s no proven way to prevent mouth cancer. However, you can reduce your risk of mouth cancer if you:
Stop using tobacco or don’t start. If you use tobacco, stop. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start. Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them vulnerable to mouth cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may help reduce your risk of mouth cancer.
Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Protect the skin on your lips from the sun by staying in the shade when possible. Wear a broad-brimmed hat that effectively shades your entire face, including your mouth. Apply a sunscreen lip product as part of your routine sun protection regimen.
See your dentist regularly. As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate mouth cancer or precancerous changes.
If you notice anything unusual, a sore or discolored area of your mouth that doesn’t heal, call Dr. Brogdon for an appointment to get this checked out. We care about your dental health!