Certain risk factors can put you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. These risk factors include smoking or chewing tobacco, alcohol abuse, UV Ray exposure, and biting your cheeks or lips as a nervous habit. If you participate in any of these activities, it’s even more important to be aware of the warning signs of oral cancer, including:
- White, red, or any other discolored patches in the mouth
- Sores on the face or mouth that don’t heal within a week or two
- Lumps or swelling on the gums, lips, the roof of your mouth, or the insides of your cheeks
- Pain or numbness in any area of the mouth, face, or neck
- Repeatedly bleeding in the mouth that takes a long time to stop
Oral Cancer Self-Check Checklist
There are six areas you’ll need to check to perform a thorough self-check:
- Lips – Check the outside and the insides of upper and lower lips for sores or changes in color. Press the lips to feel for bumps.
- Tongue – Inspect and touch the top, bottom, and sides of your tongue for swelling or lumps. Check for any changes in color or texture.
- The Roof of the Mouth – Use a finger to check for bumps on the roof of your mouth. Open wide and check for any color changes or sores.
- Face – Examine the skin and take note of any color changes, ulcers, or bumps.
- Cheeks – Look on the insides of your cheeks for sores or color changes. Press and squeeze your cheeks to check for tenderness or lumps.
- Neck – Lastly, use your fingers to press along the front and sides of your neck to feel for lumps or tenderness.
Your general dentist will perform an oral cancer check at every dental exam and cleaning. If you have any concerns about oral cancer, please contact your dentist.
If you need endodontic care or root canal therapy, please contact Endodontic Specialists of Colorado at one of our locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado.