April 14, 2022
The American Cancer Society estimates that this year alone, 51,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer. That is a staggering figure; and it might be cause for concern if you aren’t maintaining good oral health. Even though there are treatment options and preventive measures that you can take to minimize your risks, it is still helpful to know what to look for. Here are some of the common factors and warning signs associated with oral cancer, along with some ways you can reduce your risk of developing it.
Things That Increase the Risk of Developing Oral Cancer
Researchers still aren’t sure what exactly causes oral cancer, but it has been linked to the following things:
- Tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Sun or radiation exposure
- Other types of head or neck cancer
How Can I Minimize My Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?
Preventing oral cancer mostly comes down to lifestyle choices—the biggest one is to never start smoking or quit if you already do.
A well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of natural fruits and vegetables is also advisable, as processed, artificial, and sugary foods contain ingredients that are linked to health problems. Also show caution when consuming extremely hot liquids. And when it comes to alcohol, consume it in moderation.
It also helps to limit your mouth’s exposure to the sun, and SPF lip balm can help to protect your lips from the sun’s harmful rays.
Lastly, practice good oral hygiene! You should brush and floss twice a day and routinely inspect your mouth; although the exact causes of oral cancer are still unknown, there is strong evidence that having a clean mouth greatly reduces the risk of bacterial growth and infection, which will help to protect you in the long run.
What Warning Signs Should I Watch For?
Since every part of your mouth is susceptible to oral cancer, there are a few symptoms and warning signs to watch for:
- Swelling in your neck
- Mouth sores (white and red patches on the gums, tonsils, or lining of the mouth)
- Lumps in your cheeks
- Constant bad breath
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, and moving your jaw and tongue
If something seems off and you’re having symptoms that last for more than two weeks, contact your dentist immediately. Prolonging your visit will only increase the risk of oral cancer or another serious problem developing—your dentist will need to investigate and help you come up with a gameplan.
Oral cancer is among the most preventable types of cancer, but it can still affect anyone. However, by knowing the warning signs and how to protect your mouth, you can actively reduce your risk of developing it.
About the Practice
White Oak Dental is owned and operated by Dr. Mark Stapleton, who has served patients and families in the Chaska area for several years. Dr. Stapleton received his DDS from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and he is a member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Association. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. His practice offers a wide range of services including oral cancer screenings. If you have any questions for Dr. Stapleton or would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out through his website or by phone: (952) 448-2868.
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