April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is oral cancer awareness month. Our Monroe NC dental care team is working hard to shed light on this life threatening, under-diagnosed condition. Often not caught until the later stages, oral cancer affects nearly 50,000 Americans a year. Dr. Leonard Hess provides oral cancer screenings during all oral health exams. A simple process that can potentially save lives.

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screenings are basically pain free, noninvasive and simply require a visual inspection from Dr. Hess. This simple procedure can lead to an early diagnosis for the potential for conservative and effective treatment of oral cancer.

Dr. Leonard Hess provides an oral cancer screening during your routine visits to our Monroe, NC dentist office. This quick, painless exam lasts about two minutes, but could add years to your life if an oral cancer is spotted in the early stage when treatment is often successful. Many patients do not even realize that they are being screened for the signs of oral cancer as Dr. Hess performs a routine examination of the teeth, gums and neck area during their hygiene visits.

Signs To Look For : Oral Cancer

Monitoring changes in your oral health is also helpful in allowing for early diagnosis of any oral health concern. Oral cancer may or may not show obvious signs. Normally seen on the soft tissues of the oral cavity, oral cancer can appear as a sore, redness or white patches, thickening of the skin, or a lump in the throat. If you have difficulty swallowing, chewing, or notice any persistent changes in your oral health be sure to contact Dr. Hess as soon as possible.

Although many signs of oral cancer easily go unnoticed, understanding what Dr. Hess is looking for during your screening can help you to monitor your own oral health between visits, especially if you are a smoker or use tobacco products which places you in the high risk category.

Common Signs of Oral Cancer:

  • Sore throat or feeling of something caught in the throat
  • Thickening of soft oral tissues
  • Noticeable red or white patches in the mouth
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • Swelling in the jaw area
  • Change in the fit of dentures
  • Difficulty swallowing

Although some of these signs or symptoms can be an indication of a wide range of dental health concerns, it is important to come in for a visit if you notice any of these changes. Early treatment can often avoid more complex problems down the road and in the case of oral cancer, it could be lifesaving.

Risk Factors : Oral Cancer

  • Tobacco Use: Whether you smoke it, vape it, or chew it, using tobacco products can greatly increase your chance of developing oral cancer.
  • Heavy Alcohol Use: Drinking alcohol, especially in combination with smoking, may increase your risk level for oral cancer.
  • HPV Exposure: If you have been diagnosed with or exposed to HPV or the Human Papillomavirus, you have a greater risk of oral cancer. HPV has been linked to increase in cancer.
  • Your Gender: Men are more likely to develop oral cancer. Men are starting to show signs of oral cancer as early as in their 20s.

Schedule An Appointment

Regular visits to Dr. Hess can help you catch oral cancer early. Remember, your oral health impacts your overall health and the quality of life. Flossing is a key piece of full and effective oral hygiene plan. Contact our Monroe dentist office to schedule an appointment and get back to enjoying a healthy, beautiful smile.