638 N. Independence Blvd.
Romeoville, IL 60446
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Mouth Cancer Risk Factors: Raising Awareness to Improve Oral Health

A woman looks in the mirror while performing a self-exam for mouth cancer

We often discuss the importance of visiting our office regularly for good oral health. But did you know visiting your dentist can also help you screen for cancer? Although National Mouth Cancer Action Month was last month, cancer doesn’t occur once a year. It’s important to be cancer-aware all year long.

By being cancer-aware, we can allay our fears and educate ourselves about early warning signs.

A little knowledge can give you a lot of power.

Learn the Risk Factors for Mouth Cancer

Over half of mouth or oral cancers appear on the tongue and tonsils. Additionally, other common areas include tumors on the lips, salivary glands, gums and inside of the cheeks. Though 25% of cases have no significant risk factor, it’s twice as likely to occur in men than in women. Furthermore, 78% of cases occur in people over the age of 55.

There are risk factors that increase one’s chances of developing mouth cancer. They include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips
  • A weakened immune system
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

When diagnosed early, the chances of surviving mouth cancer are nine out of 10. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of mouth cancer include the following:

  • A sore on the lip or mouth that doesn’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • A reddish or white patch on the inside of the mouth
  • A growth or lump inside the mouth
  • Ear pain

How to Do a Self-Exam

Once you know the signs, symptoms and risk factors, you can do a self-exam for mouth cancer anytime. You only need a mirror, a good light source and clean fingers.

To begin, take a good look at your face. Turn your head side to side and ensure you don’t see any lumps. Feel around your neck for lumps as well. Then, using your fingers, check the inside of your upper and lower lips and inside your cheeks. You’re looking for bumps or sores.

After that, feel around your gums for the same things. Now, stick out your tongue and check the top and bottom. Look for any swelling or changes in color. While your tongue is out and pointed up, feel around the floor of your mouth under the tongue. Again, look for lumps.

Now, the last step may be more difficult. Tilt your head back while also using a hand-held mirror to look at the roof of your mouth. Again, look for lumps or any changes in color. Also use your fingers to also feel around.

Talk to Your Dentist About Your Oral Health

If you have risk factors or notice abnormalities related to your oral health, contact your dentist to schedule a visit. Awareness and early detection are often key to successfully treating cancer and other serious diseases.

To schedule your next visit, complete our contact form or call our office at 815-886-0875.




Selena Nunez
Selena Nunez
October 22, 2022.

Hands down the best dental office to receive your dental and cosmetic needs. The staff is always very friendly and welcoming. It’s also so nice knowing that they have 3 amazing doctors on staff who know their craft. No matter which provider you see, you just know you’re in great hands. My last visit was with Dr. Sheikh for Botox. She’s very thorough and has a keen eye for detail. I’m two weeks out from my Botox treatment and let me just say, my skin has never felt so smooth or looked as radiant as it does now. Always a pleasure visiting Dr. Sheikh!

Victoria esposito
Victoria esposito
October 2, 2022.

Please look no further! This entire office has their act together. I’ve been seeing Dr Sheikh and she is so patient and gentle.She is also a perfectionist and listens to your concerns and delivers options. I’ve also seen Dr Nina and Dr Patel and certainly no complaints with either of them. I’ve had 3 crowns and numerous fillings and no problems with any of the work. Thanks for building my complete confidence!

Nancy Sauer
Nancy Sauer
September 29, 2022.

Today I had a great visit at Romeoville Dental! Anna and Jaime are wonderful, and so is Dr. Nina. The desk staff are very welcoming. It's always so enjoyable to come here.

Daniel Gonzalez
Daniel Gonzalez
September 28, 2022.

Excelente servicio

Neshelle Baker
Neshelle Baker
September 25, 2022.

I love Romeoville Dental Center! I’ve been here about 4 times and had a different hygienist and dentist each time. The entire team is amazing, every single person has always been caring, gentle and friendly. I highly recommend.

Gianna Munoz
Gianna Munoz
September 24, 2022.

By far the best dentist office I’ve been to. I love the patient care and the whole staff.

Phyllis Lanphear
Phyllis Lanphear
September 24, 2022.

The office staff and dentists are just awesome!! They take time to talk with you and make you feel so comfortable.