Did you know that in Victoria alone, there are about 600 people who are diagnosed with mouth, nose, and throat cancer each year?
Cancer of any sort is serious business. What’s more, it can pop up in any part of your body – your mouth included.
In addition to giving you advice on your brushing technique, cavities and looking at the health of your gums, your Armadale dentist can also identify the early warning signs of oral cancers.
Just another reason to schedule regular check-ups with your local dentist!
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that causes damage to surrounding tissues and eventually, the rest of your body.
It’s important to realise that oral cancer is an umbrella term referring to any number of cancerous growths that start in your mouth.
In particular, oral cancer tends to start in the cells lining your mouth such as those in your lips, tongue and floor of your mouth, though in some cases it can start in your cheeks, gums or tonsils.
Early detection of oral cancer by a dental professional allows you to seek treatment before cancer cells have had enough time to metastasize (that is to say, spread to the rest of your body).
To better give you an idea of what to avoid or minimise, here are some of the common causes of oral cancer…
Smoking and tobacco usage
Tobacco users are at a high risk of having oral cancer (according to some studies, the risk is up to six times higher).
Excessive alcohol consumption
From an oral health perspective, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink (provided you brush afterwards, that is) – excessive drinking however can dramatically increase your chances of acquiring oral cancer.
Deficiency in vitamin A, C, and E can lead to oral cancer, especially for those who are already in their 40s.
The risk of oral cancer rises with age – those who are above 40 years of age face a much higher risk than those who are below 40.
A history of cancer in the family may also put a person at risk of developing oral cancer.
Signs of oral cancer you must look our for
So now you know what causes oral cancer… but how do you know whether or not you have one?
While your local Armadale dentist can identify cancers, most of us see (or should see!) our dentist twice a year.
Cancer can pop up during the time between check-ups – as such, it’s important that you know what to look out for so you can bring it up at your next appointment.
Some of the common signs of oral cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- The feeling of a lump blocking your throat
- Repeated sore throat and hoarseness of voice
- Tooth loss
- Pain and numbness in your mouth including the tongue
- A visible lump in your mouth
- Difficulty in jaw and tongue movement
- Painful ears without loss of hearing
- Continuous bleeding of the mouth
- Altered taste
- Sudden weight loss
All these are just some signs that things aren’t all right in your mouth.
If you notice any of these symptoms appearing in your mouth – and more importantly, not going away on their own – we suggest talking to your local dentist and GP as soon as possible.
Protect yourself from cancer: how to prevent oral cancer early
Preventing oral cancer starts with early detection and proper oral hygiene. If you’re worried about your risk of oral cancer, or fall into one of the high-risk groups we talked about earlier, you’ll want to…
1) Organise oral cancer screenings
Oral cancer screenings are examinations conducted by your GP or dentist. It’s a painless, quick, and effective method for detecting the early signs of oral cancer.
During your screening, and thoroughly checks every part of your teeth and gums, lips and face, neck and jaw and every part of your tongue.
Contact your oral health care professional about booking an oral cancer screening as part of your next check-up.
2) Practice good oral hygiene
While pretty basic, don’t be fooled – good oral hygiene is one of the most effective weapons against oral cancer!
According to some research, good oral hygiene doesn’t just prevent tooth decay, gum infections and other oral health diseases – it may also help in the fight against oral cancer.
Just another reason to brush and floss twice a day!
3) Kicking the habit: cut tobacco and alcohol out of your life
Like we said before, alcohol and tobacco consumption are two of the biggest risk factors when it comes to developing oral cancer.
Therefore, cutting both of these out of your life can dramatically reduce your risk of oral cancer (not to mention, it’s a good habit to get into in general!)
4) Visit your dentist regularly
Did you know?
Dentists do much more than just give you advice with brushing, flossing and other facets of oral health – regular dental visits can also detect early signs of oral cancer.
During your checkup, your dentist looks around your entire mouth.
If we notice any suspicious signs and potential signs of oral cancer, we will alert you to them and can help you schedule a biopsy to confirm whether or not it’s cancer-related.
Looking for an Armadale dentist to inspect your oral health?
Contact Dental Care Group today!
Our Armadale dentists offer preventive care and hygiene solutions tailored to keep your mouth clean and protected from problems – and that includes oral cancer.
Dr Zelman Lew and the team offer:
- Gum evaluation
- Cleaning and polishing of teeth
- Identification of oral health conditions
- Advice on oral products to use
- Taking dental x-rays for diagnostic purposes
- Guidance to correct teeth brushing
Have you had oral cancer in the past?
Once you finish undergoing treatment for your oral cancer, your Armadale dentist can also provide advice and guidance to reduce the risk of your oral cancer from making a return.