Yes — the risk of oral cancer tends to increase with age. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that more than half of all oral cancer patients are 65 years of age and older. Therefore the older you get, the more at risk you become and the more important it becomes to take care of your oral health.
Oral cancer can sometimes be detected by lesions found on your tongue or in your mouth. If you find a lesion or a sore in your mouth, we recommend seeing a dentist right away to have it checked out.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
- Smoking/Tobacco Use—90% of oral cancer patients use tobacco. A smoker is 6 times as likely to develop oral cancer compared to a non-smoker.
- Alcohol Use—75% of oral cancer patients drink alcohol frequently.
Signs for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer generally starts as a tiny, often unnoticed white or red spot or sore in your mouth. But there are other signs to look out for as well, such as:
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Difficulty moving your jaw or your tongue
- Your teeth or bite shifting
- A sore that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
- Pain, tenderness or numbness
- A small rough patch or lump in your mouth
- Color change in your mouth
How Do You Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer?
The best way to reduce your risk of oral cancer is by being healthy. Here are some ways that we recommend to stay healthy and aware of your health:
- Don’t smoke
- Protect your lips from lip cancer by limiting exposure to the sun and using lip balm with sunscreen
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Get regular dental examinations that include oral cancer screenings
- Regularly check your mouth at home, if you notice anything new or different, visit your dentist to have it checked
How can my dentist help?
The best way to be able to detect early signs of oral cancer is by visiting your dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings. Your dentist can use technology to identify signs of oral cancer during your regular dental exams, such as the VELscope. If your dentist suspects any abnormality, he or she will send your sample tissues to a lab to be further studied. If your dentist receives lab results confirming cancer, he or she can get started on your cancer treatment right away.
If you have any questions about oral cancer, visit a 123 Dentist location today!