Studies show that one person dies from oral cancer every hour. Historically the death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high because the cancer continues to be discovered late in its development due to a lack of oral health screenings. To help reduce the number of oral cancer related deaths, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC) will be offering free oral cancer screenings to the public in 203 of GEDC offices throughout the entire month of April – Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
“Oral cancer can easily go unnoticed in its early
stages as it can be painless and physical changes might not be very
noticeable,” said Dr. Lyda Harandi with Great Expressions Dental Centers. “Because
this can be life-threatening, it’s extremely important to be proactive about
the prevention of oral cancer and work to detect signs in the early stages of
development. Prevention begins with knowing what to look for and be mindful of
In addition, following are some important tips to help prevent oral cancer:
· Avoid smoking and any type of tobacco product. According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco use is the leading cause of oral cancer. Tobacco includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Not only can use of these products cause oral cancer in the mouth but also parts of the throat.
· Limit alcohol use. Using alcohol is a large risk factor for oral cancer. The more alcoholic drinks consumed daily, the higher the risk of oral cancer. The risk is about twice as high in people who have three to four alcoholic drinks per day compared to those who don’t drink alcohol, according to the National Cancer Institute.
· Sun exposure. Repeated exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of lip cancer, which most often occurs on the lower lip. Applying chapstick with sunscreen everyday will help prevent sun damage and cancer.
· Regular dentist visits and self-examinations. Scheduling your six month exams is a great way to keep a healthy mouth. The dentist is the first line of defense in identifying dental health problems that may be associated with oral cancer, so it’s important to meet with them regularly and ask for an oral cancer screening. In addition, be sure to take a few minutes each month for a self-exam to see if you can see or feel anything suspicious including lumps; bumps; tender areas; and any white, red or grey patches. If these symptoms are found, contact your dentist immediately.
· Brushing and flossing daily. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride based toothpaste is critical in removing bacteria that causes cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. Flossing sometimes is easily forgotten, however, if you don’t floss, you will miss cleaning 35 percent of your tooth surfaces. Flossing in the evening will remove bacteria that like to feed on food particles throughout the day and prevent bad breath.
· Spotting early and advanced indicators. Early indicators of oral cancer include: red or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth, any sore that does not heal within 14 days and hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time. Advanced indicators of oral cancer include: a sensation that something is stuck in your throat, numbness in the oral region, difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue, difficulty in swallowing, ear pain in one side only, or a lump that develops in the mouth or on the neck.
GEDC performs visual cancer screenings on all of their patients as part of their standard practice and to support Oral Cancer Awareness Month, GEDC is offering free screenings to the public. The screening consists of an examination of the face, neck, lip and mouth for signs of cancer, as well as checking the tongue for any lesions or discolorations. Find a GEDC office near you to get your free oral cancer screening today.