November is Mouth Cancer Awareness month, a national dental holiday dedicated to education involving oral cancer.

According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, over 650,000 people (about half the population of Hawaii) are affected each year by the disease. Men are twice as likely to suffer from this cancer, and the tongue and tonsils are the most common places the cancer grows. Because awareness about mouth cancers is often low, most patients don’t know what signs and symptoms to look for when assessing their oral health. That’s why it’s critical to have good access to competent dental care, regularly, so early detection can prevent issues from arising. Doing regular self-checks to evaluate your mouth, head, neck and lips for non-healing sores, red and white patches, and any unusual swelling or bumps, can aid in finding areas of concerns to bring up with a dentist. Encouragingly, most mouth cancers are preventable with certain lifestyle choices, such as eliminating smoking, avoiding excessive drinking and giving up chewing tobacco.

Early diagnosis can lead to a 90% success rate in treatment, so do not put off important, preventative measures to keep your oral health in check!