When you visit the dentist, you’re usually there to have your teeth cleaned and your mouth inspected—oral cancer is probably [hopefully] the very last thing on your mind! However, according to the American Cancer Society, this deadly disease claims over 11,000 lives annually; and late diagnoses often make treatment difficult and complicated! This means that visiting your dentist regularly for preventive care is crucial to lowering your risk of oral cancer. Keep reading to learn more about oral cancer and what you can do to safeguard yourself against it.
What Increases My Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?
Even though researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes oral cancer, they have been able to link it to quite a few different things:
- Smoking and tobacco usage (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
- A weakened immune system
- Sun or radiation exposure
- Other types of head or neck cancer
How Can I Minimize My Risk of Oral Cancer?
Even though oral cancer can be quite deadly, it is still among the most preventable types of cancer and there are luckily many preventive measures you can take to lower your overall risk of developing it. The absolute best thing you can do is to never start smoking or quit if you already do; smoking is notorious for causing cancer, among other health problems!
You can also take measures to fortify your body and immune system; a well-balanced diet is an excellent way to do this. Consider eating plenty of hearty fruits and vegetables along with lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Also avoid sugary and processed, ready-to-eat foods when you can, as they can encourage bacterial growth inside of your mouth.
It also helps to protect the outside of your mouth! Wearing SPF lip balm when spending extended time in the sun and shading your face whenever possible can also contribute towards a healthier and better-protected mouth. Also show caution when consuming extremely hot foods and drinks; these items can burn your mouth and increase the risk of infection!
What Warning Signs Should I Watch For?
Since your whole mouth is vulnerable to oral cancer, there are quite a few warning signs and symptoms you should watch for. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for two or more weeks, contact your dentist immediately—inaction will only increase the risk of oral cancer developing, or some other serious problem.
- Mouth sores on the gums, tonsils, or lining of the mouth.
- Swelling in the neck, throat, or gums.
- Lumps in the cheeks.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Loose teeth.
- Constant bad breath.
Oral cancer isn’t something that you need to be afraid of; a little knowledge combined with preventive measures can ensure that your mouth remains protected from this serious disease.
About the Practice
Pacific View Dental Group serves patients and families in the Huntington Beach area under the leadership of Dr. Alexandria N. Arditti! Dr. Arditti received her dental doctorate from the prestigious Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California. Her practice is proud to offer a wide range of available services, including preventive options like oral cancer screenings. If you have any questions about the article or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact Dr. Arditti online or by phone: (714) 592-4294.