Oral cancer wouldn’t come up first if you were asked to name the most frequent forms of the disease. Although this kind of cancer is less prevalent than others, like breast, lung, and prostate cancer, it is still relatively common.
Even though it should be a routine component of every dental visit, not all dentists screen for oral cancer. Screening for oral cancer may save lives by detecting cancer in its early, treatable stages.
How Can I Protect Myself Against Oral Cancer?
Let’s briefly examine some warning signs, potential causes of oral cancer, and possible solutions.
Oral Cancer: How Does It Occur?
Oral cancer develops when mouth cells get mutations in their DNA. These alterations allow cancer cells to multiply and flourish under conditions in which normal cells would perish. A mass of cancer cells is harmful to the tissue and can potentially migrate (spread to other places of the body).
The first step in assessing your risk for oral cancer is to get familiar with the many forms of the disease and the factors that increase your likelihood of developing them. Oral cancer can be caused by cancers of the oropharynx and mouth cavity.
Why Is Screening So Crucial?
The dentist conducts an oral cancer screening to look for any changes or symptoms of cancer or precancerous diseases in the mouth. The dentist will examine your mouth and maybe your head, face, and neck for any signs of abnormal growth or changes in tissue as part of the screening process.
You can anticipate your dentist’s checking for any new or changed bumps, sores, or discolorations since your last visit. Some dentists may employ additional diagnostic tools to locate regions with potentially abnormal cells; if this is the case, a small biopsy may be performed to ascertain the source of the problem.
Oral Cancer Detection and Diagnosis
Your dentist often discovers the earliest warning signs of oral cancer. You may expect a thorough checkup from your dentist, who will check your whole mouth, including your tongue, eyes, cheeks, throat, and ears. A referral to a specialist may also be made for further testing, such as X-rays, endoscopy, and biopsy.
While some people may not experience any discomfort from oral cancer in its early stages, the following are still some of the most prevalent symptoms:
- Location prone to excessive blood loss
- Significant and unexpected weight loss
- Pain in the ear
- Red or white spots on the lips, tongue, gums, inside of cheeks, or anywhere else in the mouth
- A bulge, thickening, or crusty region
- Sensation of tingling in the mouth, face, or neck
- Discomfort or the feeling that something is stuck in one’s throat
- Discomfort caused by swelling while using dentures
- Problems with swallowing and moving your tongue
- A mouth ulcer or inflammation that lasts more than two weeks to heal
- A persistent aching throat
- Alterations in voice quality, such as hoarseness
Do your best to practice proper dental hygiene.
How to Protect Yourself from Oral Cancer?
At least twice a day, brush and floss your teeth. When oral hygiene is neglected, it provides ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria and diseases. A dirty mouth significantly weakens your body’s defenses against cancer and other harmful diseases.
Maintain Oral Hygiene
Unhealthy mouths may lead to many problems if you do not make it a point to floss and brush your teeth regularly. An unclean mouth leads to several germs and infections, which may further lead to oral cancer in the long run. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the virus that causes oral cancer. Make sure you maintain proper oral hygiene to avoid such issues.
Put Down the Tobacco
Cancers of the mouth and throat are elevated by a factor of five to twenty-five in smokers. Chewing tobacco is highly carcinogenic and should be avoided at all costs due to its high risk of developing mouth cancer.
Tobacco use causes 80-90 percent of all cases of mouth cancer. Giving up cigarettes is also associated with a lower chance of developing mouth cancer. People who abstain from smoking for many years lower their risk by as much as 50%.
Reduce Your Time in the Sun
Lips need protection from the sun’s rays just like the rest of our skin. Persistent exposure to sunlight increases the likelihood of developing lip cancer, notably lower lip cancer.
Maintain a Regular Exercise Routine
The chance of developing cancer may be lowered, and the immune system can be strengthened via regular physical activity. This includes yoga, running, walking, riding, swimming, and weightlifting.
Select Cancer-Fighting Foods to Eat
Berries, tomatoes, fibrous vegetables (like cabbage and broccoli), flax seeds, beans, green tea, garlic, grapes, and soy have anti-cancer antioxidant effects. You should stay away from any dishes that have either been grilled or fried.
Get the HPV Shot
Oral cancer risk factors include not just one’s way of life but also sexual transmission. The exchange of reproductive fluids during oral contact may spread the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause mouth cancer.
In addition to being the most common cause of cervical cancer, HPV is also a significant contributor to oropharyngeal malignancies. Most incidences of oral cancer may be traced back to HPV-16, a viral strain that affects both sexes equally.
Of course, not all cases of HPV result in oral cancer, but you may still reduce your risk by only having safe sexual relations and getting the HPV vaccine.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
A good diet may help lower cancer risk, but it cannot eliminate it entirely. Get your fill of fruits and veggies, maintain a healthy body weight, moderate your alcohol consumption, and reduce your intake of processed meats.
A diagnosis of oral cancer should not be taken lightly. And yet, if detected early enough, it is manageable. Consequently, it is in your best interest to maintain frequent visits to the dentist for checkups and preventative screenings of the mouth.
The dentists at the Family Dental Center are committed to patient satisfaction, and we will gladly perform an oral cancer screening on you. We’re committed to looking out for your medical and financial interests in the best possible way when it comes to dental treatment. Contact us today for further information.