The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that oral cancer will kill at least 9,750 United States citizens this year, causing one death per hour. Of the 54,000 United States citizens who will get diagnosed with mouth cancer this year, fewer than half will survive the next five years. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) projects this rate will only continue increasing over the decades to come.
Oral Cancer: What It Is and Why It Matters
Cancers located in the mouth or back of the throat are known as mouth cancers or oral cancers. Oral cancers can occur all over the mouth from the tongue (both on it and under it) to the back of the throat to the tissues of the mouth, including gum tissue.
Oral and mouth cancers can be some of the hardest types of cancer to identify unless you’re a dentist. This makes them some of the most dangerous types of cancer. Oral cancers spread fast to different areas in the body when they’re not properly treated.
When giving you a routine dental cleaning or exam, one of the things your dental hygienist or dentist will do is check your mouth for oral cancers. That makes it essential for your oral health and protection to make sure you see your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for exams and dental cleanings.
Being Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, November is a great time to explore ways for detecting, treating, and preventing oral cancers, not the least being seeing your dentist and dental hygienist here at Nevid Dental.
Set up your next dental exam and cleaning right away, and take the most important step toward keeping your smile beautiful and your mouth healthy.
Diagnosing Mouth Cancer
It is essential to detect oral cancer early, since it spreads so fast. Many Pawling, NY dentists screen for oral cancer during routine dental exams. They won’t take a lot of time to complete and are completely pain-free.
It simply involves your dentist examining your mouth, neck, lips, and face to identify any symptoms of oral cancer. In addition, the dentist may explore the inside of your cheeks and lips and the areas around your jawline, face, and neck for any growths.
Mouth Cancer Signs
As mentioned, without a dental exam, oral cancers can be challenging to detect. However, several symptoms exist that indicate a potential issue you may want your dentist to look into.
Stay alert for:
Sores or ulcers that won’t heal, even after several weeks
White or red patches in the mouth
Inflammation or lumps in the areas of the head, neck, and mouth
Scar-type tissue in growths or patches
If you think you may have any problems with your mouth, get in touch with your dentist right away for help finding out.
What Causes Mouth Cancer?
Certain factors such as age may increase your risk of developing mouth or oral cancer. However, as much as 90% of oral and mouth cancers are attributed to various lifestyle factors.
Smokers have ten times the likelihood of developing some type of mouth or oral cancer. Smoking, in fact, is directly linked to two out of every three cases of mouth cancer. Also terribly harmful to your dental health are chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Because they contain a combination of toxic ingredients, they vastly raise your chances of acquiring oral cancer. Another main risk factor for oral cancer is excessive alcohol use. When this and smoking are combined, the risk of getting oral cancer triples.
What’s more, other lifestyle choices like unhealthy eating habits lacking in the proper nutrients and exposure to the sun can additionally raise your chances of developing mouth cancer.
How Dentists Treat Mouth Cancers
Although oral cancer seems frightening, it can be easily treated if your dentist detects it early. In fact, the primary reason so many people die from oral cancers is not that oral cancer treatments aren’t effective; it’s the fact that it isn’t detected early enough.
During your exam, your dentist could discover some kind of abnormalities in your mouth, whereupon he or she could have you see a specialist.
An entire specialist team that could include your Pawling, NY dentist, an oncologist, and a maxillofacial or oral surgeon is often involved in mouth or oral cancer treatments. Surgery and radiation therapy are typical treatment options for oral cancer that was detected early. Your dentist may provide more advanced treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy if your oral cancer has advanced further at the time it’s diagnosed.
Dentists also commonly use targeted therapy to treat oral cancer. This is a newer kind of cancer treatment making use of medicine or other compounds to detect and attack cancer cells with precision. Several factors help your dentist decide which treatment options to provide for your case of mouth or oral cancer, including:
The location where cancer started in your mouth
If any tumors are present, their size and type
Whether it’s spread into other areas of the body
Your general health overall
How You Can Prevent Oral and Mouth Cancers
Preventing mouth cancer involves living a healthier lifestyle, getting regular checkups from your dentist, and detecting signs and symptoms of mouth cancer early. Being sure to eat a balanced diet with sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals each day will also help with your oral and overall health. It’s critical to understand what to be aware of between dental exams, as mouth or oral cancers can hit anyone.
If you see any changes or abnormalities in your mouth, call us at Nevid Dental right away and set up a visit with your Pawling, NY dentist to maintain the health of your smile and mouth.