According to the American Dental Association, Oral Cancer strikes over 34,360 Americans each year. Oral or mouth cancer includes gum cancer, tongue cancer, throat cancer and lip cancer. Causes of oral cancer vary, however risk factors include tobacco use of any kind, heavy alcohol use, excessive sun exposure to your lips, HPV and a weakened immune system.

There’s no proven way to prevent mouth cancer, but you can take steps to prevent it. Adopt a lifestyle that protects your oral health and visit your local Neighborhood Dental Clinic regularly.

Checking for signs of oral cancer is part of a regular dental checkup. When doing an oral cancer screening, your dentist will examine your lips, roof and floor of your mouth, gums, tongue and the inside of your cheeks.

Additionally, your dentist will look for several different oral cancer symptoms including a red or white patch, sore that doesn’t heal, thick or hard spot or lump and roughened or crusted areas. Other signs of oral cancer include numbness, pain or tenderness or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down. Tell your dentist about any problems you have when chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw.

Oral cancer treatment depends on your cancer’s location and stage, as well as your overall health and personal preferences. You may have just one type of treatment, or you may undergo a combination of cancer treatments. Treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Discuss your options with your oral cancer doctor.