May 2, 2021
When you go to the dentist every six months for a regular cleaning and checkup, your dentist is looking for more than just cavities and gum disease. They are searching for a wide variety of abnormalities that could indicate something isn’t right in your mouth or elsewhere in the body. One of the many things that your dentist is looking for is early signs of oral cancer. There are several factors that can put you at higher risk for this deadly disease. A dentist in Midland shares what they are and some ways that it can be prevented.
What Factors Increase Your Risk of Oral Cancer?
Here are some of the most common factors that can lead to the development of oral cancer:
- Using tobacco products: People who smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, or use chewing tobacco are at higher risk for oral cancer. Approximately 90% of people with oral cancer use tobacco products.
- Drinking heavily: Heavy drinkers are most likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer. This number is even higher if you use tobacco products.
- Sun Exposure: Excessive sun exposure to the lips increases your likelihood of developing oral cancer.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Oral cancer can be caused by HPV. This is typically found in the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and in the tonsils.
- Adults 45+: Anyone can get oral cancer, but it is more common in adults over the age of 45.
What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
These are some of the signs that could point to oral cancer. If you are experiencing any of the following, you should bring it up with your dentist:
- Mouth sores
- White or red patches
- Swelling of the neck
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Weight loss
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Lump in the cheek
- Difficulty moving jaw or tongue
How Can You Prevent Oral Cancer?
Here are few measures that you can take to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer:
- Don’t use tobacco products
- Eat a healthy diet
- Practice excellent dental hygiene
- Only drink alcohol in moderation
- Limit sun exposure
- Use a lip balm containing SPF
- Remove dentures every night and clean them daily.
Oral cancer can be very serious, but it is preventable and treatable when it’s caught in its early stages. By following the tips listed above, looking out for signs, and going to the dentist for regular checkups, you can significantly lower your risk!
About the Author
Dr. Laura Philipps is an experienced dentist who has been working in the dental field for two decades. She earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at Tufts University and is passionate about continuing education and expanding her clinical skillset. Currently, she is a proud member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, American Equilibration Society, and American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. To learn more about oral cancer screenings or to schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (432) 570-4433.
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