Australians are intimately familiar with cancer. Thanks to our strong sun, we’ve got the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – and this is even in spite of our small population.

However, there’s another cancer out there that doesn’t get anywhere near the same level of coverage: mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer covers a wide range of different cancers that can be found throughout the mouth, including in your:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Gums
  • Cheeks
  • Tonsils
  • Saliva glands

While we’re on the topic of things you mightn’t have known, here’s another one: did you know that our Armadale dentist can help you spot oral cancer during your regular dental check-ups?

The signs of mouth cancer

Read through the signs below – and if you’re experiencing one or more yourself, we urge you to book an appointment with your local dentist to investigate further. 

  • Bleeding and numbness of the mouth
  • Red and white patches visible on the mouth, tongue, and gums
  • A sore and swelling lip that takes time to heal
  • Neck lump
  • Pain in swallowing and eating
  • Ear pain
  • Numbness in your tongue and mouth
  • Swelling of your jaw
  • Feeling like something is stuck in your throat

Chances are it’s either nothing or something relatively benign – on the off chance that it’s something more sinister however, the early warning could save your life.

From there, your dentist in Armadale can perform their own checks, or refer you to a specialist for a follow-up.

Causes of oral cancer

No doubt one of the first questions to cross your mind is simply: what causes oral cancer?

And as with most cancers, the list of potential causes is long and extensive. These may include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Gum disease
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Family history of mouth cancer
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • A previous diagnosis of oral cancer
  • Weak immune system

If you have a history with any of these factors, be sure to raise it during your next dental appointment.

Think of it as a warning to our Armadale dentist to keep an eye out for potential cancerous growths or related concerns.

Not only that, but each of these can also have detrimental effects to your oral health outside of elevated cancer risk – hence the importance of bringing them up regardless.

Oral cancer prevention

Early detection of oral cancer is important to prevent cancer from spreading.

Even better, however? Preventing it in the first place.

There are some simple yet important steps you can take to help prevent oral cancer.

Practice good oral hygiene

Practising good oral hygiene doesn’t just protect your teeth and gums – it can also lessen the risk of acquiring oral cancer.

According to some research, there’s a direct link between poor oral hygiene and cancer.

Other studies suggest that some cases of oral cancer are tied to certain oral viruses – oral viruses that can be better managed or altogether avoided with a good dental hygiene routine.

The research is still at an early stage, so it can’t be said for sure that brushing and flossing will prevent cancer. (However as dentists it’s our obligation to instil these habits into you, regardless!)

Reduce your amount of sun exposure

Did you know? Prolonged sun and UV light exposure can lead to cancer in the lip area – just like the rest of your skin.

Protecting your skin – especially your lips – from the sun can go a long way towards reducing the chance of skin cancer. As much as possible, keep your lips away from the sun, especially during the middle of the day when there’s heavy sun exposure.

Even something as simple as wearing a hat or wearing a lip balm with SPF protection can go a long way towards protecting you from oral cancer!

oral cancer

Quit smoking

There’s a reason Australian cigarette packets come with a graphic picture of mouth cancer – namely, oral cancer is one of the most common outcomes of a nicotine habit.

Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 different chemicals – many of which are known to be harmful

Some of these chemicals are proven to be linked to cancer!

Make no bones about it: smoking and using tobacco puts you at significantly higher risk of acquiring oral cancer.

By kicking the habit, you aren’t just reducing your cancer risk – you’re also looking after the rest of your oral health too.

In addition to cancer, smoking has also been linked to countless other oral hygiene problems such as:

  • Tooth stains
  • Bad breath
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of taste

Limit alcohol consumption

Of course, it isn’t just tobacco that can harm your teeth and gums while increasing your risk of cancer – alcohol has a similar effect.

Heavy drinking irritates your mouth and can increase your risk of acquiring a wide range of cancers – oral cancer included.

Unlike tobacco however, we aren’t suggesting that you kick the habit completely – rather, we simply recommend that you keep it to a reasonable level and drink in moderation.

When it comes to alcohol and cancer, the frequency and volume you consume have the biggest effect on your cancer risk.

Specifically, too much alcohol can change your body chemistry and weaken your defences against oral cancer. 

Schedule regular dentist visits

All of these measures can help reduce your risk of cancer – of course, as we all know, cancer doesn’t discriminate.

That’s why it’s important to get your mouth regularly checked for the signs of oral cancer by your dentist.

In addition to looking at your teeth, gums and tongue, our dentist in Armadale can also perform an oral cancer check as part of your annual dental appointment.

We’ll help detect signs of oral cancer early on.

Not only that, but our dentist in Armadale specialises in preventive care – in addition to these tips, we’ll also provide a range of other habits that you can get into in order to reduce your chance of developing oral cancer.

Visit an Armadale dentist for an oral check-up today!

When it comes to oral health, early prevention is the key.

Even simple changes to your habits can protect you from a huge range of serious health conditions such as oral cancer.

And it all starts with regular oral check-ups with an Armadale dentist.

Dental Care Group helps you keep on top of your oral health, providing each patient with a tailored preventive program that helps them maintain a healthy mouth.

We’ll also keep an eye out for any swelling, discoloration and other oral conditions that might suggest cancer.

Have concerns? Talk to our dentist in Armadale today – give us a call on (03) 9509 1500 for immediate support and advice.

And if you have any dental emergency, don’t hesitate to seek professional help for:

Look after your oral health – contact an Armadale dentist today on (03) 9509 1500 or book online now.