Understanding Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
As valued patients of Spokane Dental, your oral health is our top priority. While patients think a lot of our focus is on routine check-ups and dental treatments, we actually perform an oral cancer screening at every appointment. Oral cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, making it crucial to understand its causes, symptoms, and preventive measures. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of oral cancer, empowering you with the knowledge to recognize early warning signs and take proactive steps towards prevention.
1. What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells in any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, floor of the mouth, and the roof of the mouth (palate). It can also affect the tonsils and the salivary glands. In its early stages, oral cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms. This can underscore the importance of regular dental check-ups at Spokane Dental, as dentists can often are the first to discover abnormalities or oral cancer.
2. Common Causes of Oral Cancer:
While the exact cause of oral cancer is not always clear, certain risk factors increase its likelihood. These risk factors include:
a) Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and using smokeless tobacco significantly elevate the risk of developing oral cancer. The harmful chemicals in tobacco products damage the cells in the mouth, increasing the chances of cancerous growth.
b) Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption is another prominent risk factor for oral cancer. Alcohol, especially when combined with tobacco use, increases the carcinogenic effects on oral tissues.
c) Sun Exposure: Prolonged and unprotected exposure to the sun can increase the risk of lip cancer. Using lip balms with sun protection factor (SPF) and wearing wide-brimmed hats can offer protection.
d) Poor Oral Hygiene: Neglecting oral hygiene can lead to chronic inflammation of the oral tissues, which is linked to higher cancer risk.
3. Recognizing the Symptoms:
Early detection is critical for successful treatment of oral cancer. Familiarizing yourself with the warning signs can make a significant difference. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
a) Persistent Mouth Sores: If you have a sore in your mouth that doesn't heal within two weeks, it's essential to have it examined by Dr. Smith at Spokane Dental.
b) Red or White Patches: Any red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or other areas in the mouth should be evaluated promptly.
c) Unexplained Bleeding: Unexplained bleeding in the mouth, throat, or tonsils should be checked by a dental professional.
d) Difficulty Swallowing or Chewing: Persistent difficulty in swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaw could be indicative of oral cancer.
e) Chronic Hoarseness: If you experience a persistent hoarse voice or a sore throat that doesn't improve, it's crucial to seek professional evaluation.
f) Numbness or Pain: Persistent numbness or pain in the mouth, face, or neck should not be ignored.
g) Changes in Denture Fit: If your dentures suddenly don't fit well or cause discomfort, it's important to have your dentist assess your oral health.
4. Preventive Measures:
While certain risk factors may be beyond your control, you can take proactive steps to reduce your risk of oral cancer:
a) Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine visits to Spokane Dental for check-ups and cleanings allow dentists to detect early signs of oral cancer and other dental issues.
b) Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Avoiding tobacco products, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can significantly lower your risk of oral cancer.
c) Sun Protection: Using lip balms with SPF and wearing protective clothing can shield your lips from harmful UV rays.
Oral cancer is a serious health concern that requires attention and awareness. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and adopting preventive measures, you can actively protect yourself against this disease. Regular dental check-ups at Spokane Dental provide an opportunity for early detection, increasing the chances of successful treatment if oral cancer is detected. Remember, your oral health is in your hands, and by making informed choices, you can safeguard your smile and overall well-being for years to come. Give us a call at (509)822-5614 to schedule today!