April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at DiGrazia Dentistry in Reno, NV, we’re dedicated to educating our community about the importance of oral health and cancer prevention. Oral cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects thousands of people each year. However, with early detection and proper care, the chances of a successful treatment are significantly higher. Keep reading to learn more about oral cancer, its signs and symptoms, risk factors, and how you can take steps to prevent it.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in any part of the mouth or oropharynx. It can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Understanding oral cancer is the first step towards prevention.

Types of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer includes various types, such as squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for the majority of cases. Knowing the different types can help in recognizing any unusual changes in your oral health early.

Signs and Symptoms

Early detection of oral cancer significantly improves the outcome of treatments. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Sores in the mouth that do not heal
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Lumps or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Persistent sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Several factors can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Being aware of these can help you make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.

Tobacco and Alcohol Use

Tobacco use, including smoking and chewing tobacco, is the most significant risk factor for oral cancer. Alcohol consumption, especially when combined with tobacco use, also significantly increases the risk.

HPV and Other Risk Factors

Infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to oral cancer. Other factors include excessive sun exposure to the lips, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and a family history of cancer.

Prevention and Early Detection

Preventing oral cancer involves making lifestyle changes and adhering to regular dental check-ups.

Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol

Since tobacco is the most significant risk factor for oral cancer, quitting smoking and chewing the substance can drastically reduce your risk of developing the disease. Moderating alcohol consumption will also decrease your risk of oral cancer.

Regular Dental Visits

Regular check-ups at DiGrazia Dentistry can help detect oral cancer early. Our professionals are trained to recognize the early signs of oral cancer and can guide you through the necessary steps if any abnormalities are found.

HPV Vaccination

Getting vaccinated against HPV can reduce the risk of oral cancer linked to the virus. Discuss with your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine.

Oral Cancer Awareness with DiGrazia Dentistry in Reno, NV

Oral Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of oral health in our overall well-being. By understanding the risk factors, recognizing the signs and symptoms, and taking preventive measures, we can all contribute to reducing the incidence of oral cancer. At DiGrazia Dentistry, we’re here to support you in maintaining optimal oral health and preventing diseases. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you keep your smile healthy and bright.