April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Posted On: March 19, 2024

Oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day in America alone. This is a HUGE static and the reason April has become oral cancer awareness month. All dental professionals, including us here at Fry Orthodontics, are using this month to highlight the dangers of mouth cancer and the signs to look for to prevent this disease from taking over.

Where to look for Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer occurs anywhere within the oral cavity. This includes:

  • Lips
  • Cheeks
  • Roof of mouth
  • Floor of mouth
  • Tongue
  • Cheeks
  • Gums

Causes of Oral Cancer 

Both genetics and environmental exposures can be a cause for oral cancer. However, excessive tobacco and alcohol use are the leading causes of this disease.

Signs to look for

Making sure you visit your general dentist twice a year for an annual cleaning is the first step in maintaining good oral hygiene. At these appointments, your dentist will check the inside of your mouth and tongue for any signs of cancer and address any concerns accordingly. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for mouth cancer, look for the following:

  • Sores on the lips or inside the mouth that don’t heal and easily bleed
  • A growth or lump inside the mouth
  • White or reddish patch inside the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth pain

The Oral Cancer Foundation has created a great website, Check Your Mouth, which walks you through step-by-step how you should check your mouth monthly to protect yourself. The website includes both pictures and a video to assist you as well as tools you will need. 

Diagnosing Oral Cancer

There are a couple different way oral cancer can be diagnosed by your doctor.

1. Biopsy

If your doctor suspects cancer, they may take a biopsy of the area in the mouth in which they are concerned. A biopsy is a procedure where tissue is removed and studied under a microscope to identify abnormal cell growth.

2. CT Scan or MRI

Computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are two noninvasive imaging procedures that can detect abnormalities that a typical x-ray may not be able to.

Treatment Options

Once it has been confirmed that oral cancer is present, it will then be staged so the doctor can determine the best course of treatment. There are a variety of treatment options for oral cancer, but some of the most common include:


Surgery can be performed to remove any abnormal cells within the oral cavity. Reconstruction surgery may also be needed after the removal process.


This is the use of high energy rays that damage cancer cells and halt the spread of the disease. Radiation is localized to minimize the damage to healthy cells within the body.


This is often the most aggressive form of treatment. Chemotherapy is the use of medication throughout the entire body to destroy cancer cells. It can be used alone or in conjunction with radiation.  


It’s important to learn how to take good care of your teeth and what to look for while doing so. Although oral cancer is one of the most extreme cases in your dental health, there are other common dental problems you should be looking for as well. Your general dentist will also do cancer screenings at your annual check-up, so be sure to ask questions if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or having oral pain and swelling.

As your local Kansas City Orthodontist, with 13 offices in the KC metro area, we promise to be on the look out for anything abnormal at each of your orthodontic appointments.