Protecting Yourself Against Oral Cancer | Ottawa Dentist

microscope looking at tooth for protection against oral cancer

Cancer is an uncomfortable thing to consider, and for many around the world is a trigger for distress. Yet, the key to beating cancer commonly comes down to early detection. It’s important to understand the warning signs to look out for at home so you can consult with your dentist about your concerns as soon as possible. Please note the following is not an exhaustive list within any of these categories, but they are important to keep in mind.

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, our age and certain lifestyle choices do put us at a greater risk of developing oral cancer. Here are some factors that contribute to our relative risk:

  • Being genetically male
  • Being over 40 years old
  • People 18-39 who use tobacco, drink or have been diagnosed with oral HPV

Warning Signs

If any of the following symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Keep in mind that these symptoms may also present themselves in the absence of pain. Be mindful of changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue.

  • Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
  • Sores that fail to heal and bleed easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Risk Reduction

One of the best ways to mitigate risk is through regular visits to your dentist. Over half of the patients diagnosed with oral cancer later into its progression survive for more than five years, so its important to remain on top of potential warning signs for early detection. If you recognize yourself as being high risk for oral cancer according to the above list, you may consider increasing the frequency with which you visit your dentist.

Here are some other ways to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer:

  • Avoid all tobacco
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol intake
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip
  • Avoid exposure to environmental hazardous materials
  • Conduct a self-exam monthly
    • Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue. If you notice something concerning, reach out to your dentist for a second opinion.

Oral cancer is serious and can happen to anyone, but if you keep this information in mind, you can mitigate your risk. Continue to attend your regular cleanings and reach out to your dentist with any concerns you may have; you may just catch a warning sign of oral cancer early, allowing you to intervene before it gets worse.

Schedule your appointment today. Call Dr. Katia Doumit in Ottawa, Ontario at 613-232-8000 or visit

Dr. Doumit proudly serves Ottawa and all surrounding areas.