Early Detection and Prevention – Protect Yourself from Oral Cancer

GOODHEALTH.dental Blog, Family/General Dentistry

Early Detection and Prevention – Protect Yourself from Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is no joke. It’s a serious disease with serious consequences.

And yet, most people don’t know what they need to do to prevent it. Sure, they may know that it’s best to quit smoking or chewing tobacco – but that’s about it.

All of our patients are important to us and we want to do all we can to help them learn about this disease.

Today, our goal is to show you how to detect it – and better yet, prevent it.

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer and How to Prevent It

Nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed in the U.S. each year with either oral cancer or oropharyngeal cancer. Each year, nearly 10,000 people die of these diseases.

According to researchers, the overall cancer numbers have remained the same in the past few years. That might seem like good news, but really, shouldn’t those numbers be going down? In our opinion, they need to!

Something else that concerns us is the fact that there has been a rise in HPV-related cancers of the mouth.

How can you make sure that you aren’t part of these statistics? Follow these steps for cancer prevention and detection.

1. Self-Examination

Periodically (approximately once a month), examine your mouth to see if there are any abnormalities. Contact our office right away if you notice any of the following.

  • White or red patches anywhere in the mouth
  • A lump in your neck
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking, or eating
  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Bleeding for no reason
  • Swelling or numbness of any part of the mouth, jaw, or neck.

2. Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet

Cancer has a hard time thriving in a body that is strong and healthy. When you eat nutrient-dense foods – like fresh fruits and vegetables – you give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs for a strong immune system and disease prevention.

3. Protect Yourself From the Sun

Repeated exposure to the sun can result in skin cancer – we all know that, right? What we don’t always think about, though, is the risk the sun poses to the skin of our lips. Protect your lips by using sunscreen or lip products that contain sunscreen.

4. Practice Safe Sex

The Human papillomavirus is very common and can lead to certain cancers. People should get the HPV vaccine before they’re sexually active. If that’s not an option, safe sex practices should be practiced to prevent cancer and STDs.

5. Quit Tobacco and Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Studies have shown that alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. So, it’s best to limit your consumption as much as possible.

When it comes to tobacco – there’s really no great way to consume the stuff. People who smoke or chew are both at risk of developing oral and oropharyngeal cancers.

6. Brush and Floss Every Day

Cancer thrives in a body with a low immune system. By brushing and flossing every single day, you reduce the risk of gum disease and decay, both of which can result in a lowered immune response.

Why You Need to See Us for an Oral Cancer Screening

An important part of early cancer detection is seeing your dentist at least once a year for an oral cancer screening. Why is that so important? Because with early diagnosis, the chance of survival is over 80%.

What to Expect from Your Oral Cancer Screening

You can expect the following when you come to our office for an oral cancer screening.

  • First we palpate your jaw, lips, neck and throat to check for any lumps or swelling.
  • Then, we look in your mouth. With the assistance of a light and mirror, we evaluate all soft tissue – gums, inside and outside of lips, vestibules, floor of the mouth, the hard and soft palates, and the tongue.
  • When I examine the tongue, We’ll have you stick it out while I hold onto it with a piece of gauze. We’ll examine the top, bottom, and sides.
  • Then we visually examine your face, neck, and throat for asymmetry or swelling.

Add Regular Dental Visits to Your Oral Cancer Prevention Routine

Early cancer diagnosis can save your life. And one of the best ways to catch the disease early is with the help of our dental team.

We take oral cancer very seriously and make these screenings a priority. With regular visits to our office, we can do our best to catch cancer and other oral diseases early so that you can get treatment as soon as possible.

Has it been a while since your last dental visit? Schedule an appointment today to get back into a healthful routine of regular dental cleanings, checkups, and oral cancer evaluations.

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