The Importance of Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Do you need a family dentist? Peninsula Family Dentistry is here for your family’s every dental need. We prioritize preventive dentistry, including dental exams in Gig Harbor, to screen for gum disease and oral cancer.

November is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Peninsula Family Dentistry would like to take this opportunity to educate our patients and the community about the importance of oral cancer screenings. 

Oral cancer is more common than you may think and can be serious. Oral cancer is a severe disease that can be difficult to detect in its early stages. Early detection is key to survival, so we recommend that all our patients have an oral cancer screening at least once a year. At Peninsula Family Dentistry, all the clinical providers conduct an oral cancer screening with every checkup out of habit.

The screening usually occurs during your regular dental exam, an essential part of preventive care. Our team will clean your teeth during a dental exam and look for any problems. They will also check your gums and tongue for any signs of disease. We also take X-rays at least once a year to check for problems in the bone that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

During an oral cancer screening, Dr. Duffy will visually and physically examine your mouth for any signs of cancer or precancerous cells. A biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis if anything suspicious is found. 

Oral cancer screenings are quick, painless, and could save your life. So if you haven’t had one in the past year, call Peninsula Family Dentistry today or use our Request an Appointment form to schedule an appointment. 

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

There are several risk factors associated with oral cancer, including: 

  • Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; using smokeless tobacco; and exposure to secondhand smoke are all risk factors for oral cancer. 
  • Alcohol use: People who excessively drink alcohol are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. 
  • HPV infection: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that has been linked to an increased risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer. 
  • Poor nutrition: A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables increases your risk of developing oral cancer, as an optimized immune system is designed to suppress tumor cells
  • Ultraviolet light exposure: Excessive exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds can increase your risk of developing lip cancer. 

These are just some of the most common risk factors for oral cancer. It’s important to remember that anyone can develop oral cancer, even if they don’t have any of the abovementioned risks. Regular oral cancer screenings are essential, even if you think you’re not at risk. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include the following: 

  • A sore or irritation in the mouth that doesn’t go away after 2-3 weeks.
  • White or red patches in the mouth, especially when combined on the same spot
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Loose teeth 
  • Numbness in the mouth or lips  

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see our team immediately so we can determine whether or not you have oral cancer. Remember, early detection is key to survival.   

Gig Harbor Dental Exams

Oral Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to educate yourself about the risks associated with oral cancer and ensure you are up-to-date on your screenings. We can perform an oral cancer screening during your regular dental exam as an essential part of keeping your mouth healthy. Our advanced Gig Harbor dental facility exams include a comprehensive evaluation of your teeth, gums, and mouth to screen for any signs of disease or abnormalities. Call Peninsula Family Dentistry or use our Request an Appointment form today to schedule an appointment if it’s been more than a year since your last screening. 

We would be more than happy to answer any questions about oral cancer and help keep your mouth healthy and free of disease!

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