April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

closeup photo of a man's teeth
  • Jan 12 2017

Oral Cancer is nothing that should be taken lightly. Oral cancer kills nearly one person every hour of every day of the year.  Those who are diagnosed with oral cancer, only about 60% will live longer than five years. Those who do survive are likely to suffer long term problems such as difficulties speaking or eating. Due to oral cancer being found late in its development, the death rate associated with it is pretty high. That is why April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. The Oral Cancer Foundation supports Oral Cancer Awareness Month and encourages dental and medical professionals to offer free oral cancer screenings nationwide.

Unfortunately, Oral Cancer does not discriminate – it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, or a famous celebrity.  People like former Bills Quarterback, Jim Kelly (who has lost most of his maxilla), and locally, Tony Gwynn (who recently passed away from cancer), and their families have been affected by this horrible disease.

It is important to know the symptoms of oral cancer and what to watch out for.  Look for patches in the mouth or on the lips, that will not heal, bleeding in the mouth, loose teeth, pain, or difficulty swallowing, lumps in the neck, numbness of the lower lip and chin, and even difficulty wearing dentures and earaches. Oral cancer can strike in the mouth and throat and usually begin in the flat cells, those that cover the surfaces of the mouth, tongue, and lips. It is also important to do all you can to prevent the risk such as tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, sun exposure, diet, and more.

Although there is treatment available such as chemotherapy and radiation, it can affect a person’s dental health. Some of the things that if could affect  is dry mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking, tooth decay, burning feelings in the mouth or throat, mouth sores, and infections in the mouth.

Don’t be ashamed or afraid of visiting the dentist if you think you may have the symptoms listed above….we’re here to help improve your overall health.  If you haven’t seen a dentist in awhile, or would like a check-up, please call me today to make an appointment (619-285-1200).




AAOMS. (2016). Raise Oral Cancer Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.aaoms.org/education-research

Colgate. (2016). Take Heed: April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month-A Good Time to Visit Your Dentist for a Screening. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/cancer/article/ada-04-take-heed-april-is-oral-cancer-awareness-month

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Posted in: dentists, General Dentistry, Oral Care