In April, the Oral Cancer Foundation works together with dentists around the country to raise awareness about oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Each year, about 58,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed, and over 12,000 people lose their battle with the disease. That’s why we at ZDental believe it is so important to educate our patients about the potential signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Here are some things to watch out for when you are between dental visits:

Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a broad term used to describe many cancers that affect the inside of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, and the back of the throat. Because most oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, they tend to spread quickly, which is why you should always be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Sores of the Lips or Mouth – If you have a lip or mouth sore that bleeds easily and does not heal within 2-3 weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer and you should get a screening immediately.
  • Rough Spots in the Mouth – These can occur on the lips, gums, or anywhere inside the mouth. If you notice any change in the texture of these tissues, it’s best to get it checked out right away.
  • Numbness, Pain, or Tenderness – Some pain in the face, neck, or mouth can be associated with a specific cause, like an injury. If you’re not sure why you are experiencing pain in these areas, it’s definitely something worth looking into.
  • Difficulty Chewing, Speaking, or Swallowing – Oral cancer can impede the function of your mouth, so if you have trouble eating and speaking, or it is difficult to move your jaw or tongue, you will want to schedule a screening.
  • Earaches – Cancerous masses and ulcers in the mouth can cause ear pain. If you have a persistent earache that lasts longer than a few weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
  • Bad Breath – If you notice a sudden increase in the frequency or severity of bad breath, it could indicate a number of potential conditions, including oral cancer, so it’s best to get it checked out by a dentist.

Oral Cancer Screenings

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s a good idea to get an oral cancer screening as soon as possible. Many dental offices conduct oral cancer screenings as part of their normal checkup routine, but if not, they may be able to recommend a facility where you can get checked.

If you need to find an affordable dentist in the Philadelphia area or in New Jersey, you can schedule an appointment at any one of ZDental’s 7 locations in the area. Visit our contact page to find a list of our clinics and call the one that works best for you, or click “request an appointment” to schedule online. With careful observation and diligence, oral cancer can be detected early, greatly increasing the chances of successful treatment. ZDental is ready to be your partner in preventing and detecting oral cancer, so schedule your next appointment today!