Would you want your loved one to undergo a short and painless test to find pre-cancerous cells in their mouth? What if you were that person? The truth is, as painful as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus discovering it early, is crucial. That’s why, although though the oral exam that comes along with your cleaning may not be obvious to you, it’s frequently your first line of defense in the diagnosis of oral cancer. As a result, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should make an appointment.
Let’s quickly review some of the symptoms and risk factors, as well as some potential risk-reduction strategies. Remember that no list is complete, and always discuss your concerns and treatment plans for maintaining good dental health with all of your healthcare professionals.
Those at Risk for Oral Cancer
You may be more susceptible to oral cancer if you cross certain age limits and adopt certain lifestyle practices. For instance, men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer.
Here is the short list:
- 95% of all occurrences of oral cancer in patients 40 and older
- Patients between the ages of 18 and 39 who smoke, drink excessively, or who may already have an oral HPV infection.
Please consult your doctor if any of the following symptoms persist for longer than 7 to 10 days. Also bear in mind that, aside from a clearly visible sore throat, the symptoms listed below might occur even when there is no pain. On the lips, inside the cheeks, the palate, and the gum tissue that surrounds your teeth and tongue, keep an eye out for any changes. Our dentists in Kent occasionally encounter such worries and are able to assist patients in receiving early treatment.
- A wound that bleeds readily and does not heal
- Areas of red or white in the mouth
- The skin lining the inside of the mouth developing a bulge or thickening
- Persistent throat or voice hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
You might be losing out on the advantages of early cancer screening if you do not routinely visit the dentist. Please visit your dentist and receive an oral exam at least once a year. Currently, only over half of all patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years, a number caused by late diagnosis. If you are on the list of people who are deemed to be “high risk,” you should have an oral examination at least once every six months, if not more frequently.
The brief list of healthy behaviors you can adopt right away to lower your risk is provided below.
- Never use any tobacco products.
- Avoid or limit your alcohol consumption.
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake (good for everything, of course)
- Avoid too much sun exposure, which might cause lip cancer (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
- Keeping away from environmental dangers (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
- Every month, perform a self-exam to identify any of the symptoms mentioned above. To see your tongue and the rear of your mouth, use a small hand mirror. Request the guidelines for this type of home examination from your dentist at Seablue Dental. Call us at (253) 336-3000 if you haven’t seen us in a while, and we’ll show you how to conduct this examination between visits.
- Think about coffee. Although the evidence is mixed, several studies indicate that coffee may help guard against oral cancer.
Oral cancer is a significant issue. However, if found early, it can be treated. Do the right thing, go to the dentist frequently, and get that checkup!