Preventing Oral Cancer

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Preventing Oral Cancer - Cosmetic & Family Dentistry

Oral Cancer Can Drastically Affect Your Life

When it comes to managing your oral health, the majority of people focus their attention on eliminating bad breath, improving the whiteness of their teeth, or preventing cavities. While all of these are important to focus on, they are not the only issues that need attention. Oral cancer is a very real and dangerous condition that deserves more focus.

Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in or around the mouth like on the:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Cheeks
  • Tongue
  • Roof and Floor of the Mouth

Oral cancer is often grouped in the same category as head and neck cancers. It can be very hard to diagnose as it does not always make itself known until it is too late, but it is important to try and recognize the signs as soon as possible. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer with 9,700 losing their lives to the disease. With the danger so prevalent, it is important to stay on top of your oral and dental health.

Symptoms

As said previously, a lot of patients do not experience pain or irritation. This often leads many to not recognize the condition until it has already spread to their lymph nodes. However, there are some key symptoms known that will help you catch the disease before it’s too late:

  • Lip or mouth sore that isn’t healing
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain swallowing
  • White or Reddish patch inside mouth
  • Unusual lumps

It is important to not wait to be seen by an oral cancer specialist if you recognize one or more of these symptoms. If you prolong treatment, the cancer may continue to spread.

Prevention

While oral cancer is treatable, it is best to take a proactive approach to defeat it. Along with all other forms of proper oral hygiene, like brushing your teeth and flossing, here are a few extra tips to help you prevent oral cancer:

  • Avoid Tobacco Use: Arguably the greatest thing you can do for your mouth is to quit any and all tobacco use. Tobacco has been proven to cause cancer in numerous ways. Chewing, smokeless and snuff tobaccos, that are placed directly inside the lip, can directly cause oral cancer. They create white ulcers in the mouth called leukoplakia, eventually becoming cancerous. These smokeless tobacco products also contain chemicals that damage and kill cancer-protecting genes.
  • Consume Less Alcohol: Much like tobacco use, alcohol and the amount you drink can increase your risk of oral cancer. Alcohol can change the chemistry in your body, breaking down cancer defenses.
  • Get Your HPV Vaccination: The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been strongly linked to oropharyngeal cancers, or throat cancers. The throat is directly connected to your mouth, making it an important part of your oral health. Throat cancer can spread and cause more damage to your mouth and surrounding areas. It is best to get vaccinated prior to becoming sexually active.
  • Protect Your Mouth from the Sun: The sun emits dangerous UV rays that can cause cancer when exposed to skin. The lips and mouth are no exception. You can shield your lips and mouth with a wide-brimmed hat. Also, when working outside, you should always apply a lip balm with SPF to shield your lips from the dangers of UV rays.
  • Regularly Visit Your Dentist: It can be hard to recognize symptoms of oral cancer on your own. By visiting your dentist frequently, they will be able to notify you of any dangers in your oral and dental health. They can help clean your mouth as well as provide you with helpful tips to prevent you from contracting oral cancer.

Cancer of any form can be a dangerous and life-threatening condition. It is important to always be aware of your health. Oral cancer can be a difficult disease to recognize early on. It’s important for you to monitor any symptoms that may indicate the growth of cancer. Contact our oral and dental health care specialists at Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas to learn more about preventing oral cancer.

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