Although the rates of oral cancer are decreasing and likely due to declining smoking habits, it is still something that worries doctors and an area where patients should be aware. Oral cancer affects the lips, teeth, gums, and/or tongue.
If there are painful areas in your mouth, you have bleeding or experience some difficulty with swallowing, tell your dentist at your next exam. Fortunately, dentists screen for head and neck cancer when they do routine exams and may refer patients to a specialist if there’s a concern.
Most importantly, if you smoke or use tobacco, you need to stop as soon as possible. The SC Tobacco Quitline is one resource that can help with smoking cessation.