The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

The statistics are sobering. Approximately 53,000 new cases of oral cancer were reported in the U.S. in 2019 alone, resulting in the estimated death of almost 11,0000 people from all walks of life. And if you think you aren’t susceptible because you’re a non-smoker, think again. The risk for oral cancer can be just as much the result of both a genetic predisposition and poor dietary and nutrition habits as it is tobacco.


But oral cancer isn’t untreatable. In fact, the overall 5 year survival rate for patients diagnosed with either oral or oropharyngeal cancer is 65 percent, with numbers reaching as high as 84 percent if diagnosed early enough.


Those numbers alone should convince you of the importance of early oral cancer screenings. But screenings alone aren’t enough. You have to know what to watch out for specifically.


Symptoms of Oral Cancer


During an oral cancer screening, dentists may look for any number of symptoms. Some of the most common can include:


  • Consistent difficulty in chewing, speaking, swallowing, or moving the jaw.
  • Displacement in teeth or jaw.
  • Erosion, lumps, thickness, or unnatural abrasions inside the mouth.
  • Pain, soreness, and irritation inside the mouth and lips.
  • Numbness and pain when biting.
  • Reddish or white patches.
  • Spots inside the mouth which bleed continuously.


Where Does Oral Cancer Occur?


There are two forms of oral cancer. One form is within the oral cavity itself, which includes the front of your tongue, your gums, the insides of your cheeks, your lips, teeth and the roof of your mouth. The other is oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the throat; including the base of your tongue and your tonsils.


Am I At Risk for Oral Cancer?


Patients with the following factors have a higher susceptibility to oral cancer:


  • Aged 40+
  • Excessive drinking habits
  • Poor diet
  • Previous diagnosis of HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun
  • Tobacco usage (including smokeless tobacco and vaping.)


How Can an Early Screening Prevent Oral Cancer?


It’s important to remember that oral cancer typically won’t be diagnosed until tests are run at a lab; so, if your dentist notices any abnormality, stay calm. It may not be cancer, but a benign disorder that can be easily treated without invasive surgery.


A screening alone won’t prevent cancer. If diagnosed early enough, oral cancer can be treated successfully through any number of therapies, often with a substantially higher success rate than other forms of cancer. But most dentists and oral surgeons will agree that the best preventative care is a change in your lifestyle. Review the above listed factors and eliminate or address any particularly high-risk elements. Consult with Dr. Davis about the best course of action for you if tests come back positive. You might find that a change in habit won’t just change the health of your mouth. It will transform every single part of you.



The health of your mouth is critical. Call us today at (435) 628-1100 or visit us at Oral and Facial Surgery Institute.

How To Prevent Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth or throat, it is also more commonly seen in men than women. Sometimes cancer can be unavoidable, with most that is the case. Some have cancer in their genetics and some are just plain unlucky. When it comes to oral health, there are a few things you can do to prevent it. Below are nine tips to protect yourself to the best of your ability.


  1. Eat Cancer-Fighting Foods- Eat as many “cancer-fighting” foods as possible such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, turmeric, yogurt, kale, and mushrooms.
  2. Alcohol- Only consume alcohol in moderation, try to limit yourself to one drink per day.
  3. Use SPF lip balm- If you spend time outside, protecting your lips should be a priority! There are lots of options for chapstick with SPF in them, even fragrance-free for men.
  4. Cut all Tobacco- Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your chance of oral cancer by more than a third.
  5. Oral Hygiene- Make sure you are brushing and flossing your teeth daily.
  6. Safe Sex- It is important to be extremely safe and cautious if you are sexually active.
  7. HPV Vaccinated- HPV is associated with cancers at the back of the mouth. HPV can be contracted from one single encounter.
  8. Check Yourself- If you feel anything out of the ordinary, make sure to contact an oral surgeon as soon as possible. You can also take a small mirror and look inside your own mouth to check if there are any unusual colors.
  9. Dentist- Every 6 months make sure that you go visit your dentist. They normally do an oral cancer screening with your exam.


If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call the Oral and Facial Surgery Institute at (435) 628-1100.