It’s April again. That means any number of things to many different people. We at Finney Family Dentistry like to remember that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a sad fact that cancer of the mouth and upper throat collectively kill nearly one person every hour of every day of the year. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, a whopping 40 percent will not survive longer than five years. Many who do survive end up with long-term and difficult problems.

Why is this mortality rate so high? It’s high because these cancers are very often discovered late in their development. Fortunately, when oral cancers are detected and treated early, mortality and treatment-related health problems are reduced. Also fortunately, there are things you can do to catch some early warning signs.

Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Keep an eye out for a handful of signs:

soreness that doesn’t go away, red or white patches, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips, lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas, difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue, or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.

If you see these and they don’t improve or disappear after two-three weeks? Finney Family Dental is here to remind everyone that regular oral cancer examinations by your oral health professional remain the best method to detect oral cancer in its early stages. We see and notice more subtle things and have more sophisticated tools at our disposal.

We remain proud to be your partner in keeping your whole family’s smiles healthy and are always here to answer any questions you might have. As we turn a tentative step toward spring, keep healthy routines, and keep checking your mouth for anything that seems out of the ordinary.

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