Am I at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer screening Ann Arbor MI dentists

While oral cancer does not affect everyone, it is more prevalent than many think with thousands of cases detected each year in the United States. For this reason, our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists, prefer to err on the side of caution and offer oral cancer screenings to all of our patients.

Here are 4 risk factors for oral cancer that you should be aware of so you can assess your own health at home in addition to an in-office exam from our team.

Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Regularly keeping tabs on the state of your teeth and gums is important because if there’s an issue of concern, you’re more likely to notice. Fortunately, when oral cancer is caught early, it is much easier to treat so learning to spot the warning signs is an invaluable skill.

Oral cancer can show up in a variety of ways such as:

  • Noticeable lumps, bumps, or rough spots on the lips, gums, or other areas of the mouth
  • Velvety white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding inside of the mouth
  • Unexplained ear pain
  • Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal
  • Soreness in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking or moving the jaw and or tongue

It is recommended that you receive an oral cancer screening at least once a year, typically in conjunction with your 6-month teeth cleanings. However, if you notice the onset of any of the symptoms above, please make an appointment to see our dentists immediately.

Oral Cancer May Be More Likely If You:

1. Use Any Type of Tobacco Product

Did you know that if you smoke cigarettes or cigars regularly, you are 6 times more likely to develop oral cancer than a nonsmoker? Tobacco is a known carcinogen, meaning it contains chemicals that cause cancer in living tissue.

Your chances of developing a type of mouth cancer only increase if you use tobacco products like dip or chewing tobacco. In fact, you are actually 50 times more likely to experience cancers of the gums, cheeks, and lining of the lips.

Using tobacco products of any kind are especially harmful to your oral health and can result in complications involving your entire mouth.

2. Excessively Consume Alcohol 

Alcohol is to be enjoyed in moderation. If too much is consumed on a regular basis, new health issues can arise. One possible issue, of course: oral cancer.

If you abuse alcohol, you are putting yourself at risk for a myriad of health complications. Compared to those who do not drink, oral cancers are around 6 times more likely to develop for those who do. Alcohol consumption combined with tobacco use can also increase your risk for cancer of the mouth.

3. Are Genetically Predisposed 

The presence of cancer in your family can affect your chances of developing it as well. If there is a notable history of oral cancer in your family tree, it is wise to have a screening performed each time you visit our Ann Arbor dental office. That way, we can keep an eye out for symptoms if they materialize.

4. Are Extensively Exposed to the Sun 

You’ve heard of excess sun exposure causing skin cancer but did you know spending long periods of time in the sun can also impact your chance of developing mouth cancer?

There is greater risk if exposed regularly at a young age but adults should be advised as well. Lack of sun protection on the lips, like SPF lip balm, can result in cancerous lesions forming there.

Ready for a Screening?

Our dentists in Ann Arbor, MI, are always willing to take a more in depth look at your mouth if you feel something is “off”. We don’t want you to worry endlessly at home when we are able to provide painless screenings in our office. Call Liberty Dental today at (734) 994-0909 to request an appointment.