Important Signs of Oral Cancer to Watch For
Everyone wants a beautiful smile and healthy teeth as they age. Over half of the over-50 U.S. population agreed that smiles are the most enduringly attractive physical feature according to an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey. Of course, over 50 is when some of the worst issues with your smile can arise. One of those issues is oral cancer, which is most often diagnosed in Americans around 60 years of age. Luckily, there are signs that men and women can watch for to catch early stages of this scary condition.
- The most common symptom of oral cancer is a persistent mouth sore that doesn’t quite seem to heal. Sometimes mistaken for stubborn cold sores or canker sores.
- Unusual and/or persistent pain in your mouth, teeth, or jaw can possibly be attributed to oral cancer as well. Some pain towards your ears can even be a symptom of oral cancer, as the “piping” so to speak of your mouth, nose, and ears are all interconnected, and the movement of your jaw greatly influences your ears.
- Inconsistencies in soft flesh like your cheek, gums, tongue, or tonsils. Watch for lumps, thickening areas, or strange red or white patches.
- Swelling and difficulty of movement in your jaw is important to get checked out. Patients with dentures or retainers will especially notice how these will feel uncomfortable in their mouths, even to the point of being painful or unable to fit in place.
- Loose teeth. Tumors and cancerous growths can cause your teeth to be under extra pressure or even cause damage to your gums, resulting in strangely loosened teeth.
- Persistent bad breath. You may have garden variety halitosis, or constant bad breath may be a sign of something more serious, especially when in conjunction with one of the symptoms listed above. Bad breath happens when oral bacteria are in disarray, which is often the case with mouth cancers.
If you want to consistently keep up with the health of your teeth and mouth, be proactive about preventing diseases like oral cancer. Treatment for oral cancer can even inhibit procedures you want to have later in life, like dental implants. Sensitized tissues post-radiation can reject dental implants and make simple procedures that much more difficult. Remember, you only have one set of natural teeth! Avoid triggers for oral cancer like tobacco products and be proactive about your oral health for a life-long beautiful smile.