December 16, 2017

Reducing the Risk of Oral Cancer

The Daily Mail recently ran an article on Australian cigarette packets, as the law in the country bans the use of any promotional text or logos, but now also uses graphic photos to illustrate just how bad smoking can be for your health. This includes some pretty nasty looking pictures of mouth cancer, as smoking is one of the factors known to increase the risk of developing this disease and is perhaps one of the best reasons for giving up the habit.

Every year there are around 6,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the UK, and unfortunately one person will lose the fight against oral cancer every five hours. One of the most important factors in helping to ensure a successful outcome against oral cancer is if the condition is diagnosed early on.

As well as smoking, other factors that can increase the risk of this disease include having a poor diet, being a heavy drinker, or having contracted the Human Papilloma Virus. It can also be more prevalent amongst people who have poorly fitting dentures, as these can irritate the gum tissues causing sore patches, and amongst people who have some other medical condition that affects their immune system. Unfortunately more cases of oral cancer being diagnosed each year. Survival rates for mouth cancer are around 90%, but the five-year survival rate drops to just 50%.

Reduce Your Risk by Visiting Your Dentist Regularly
You can reduce your risk by making sure you keep your appointments for six monthly checkups, as these are likely to include checks for oral cancer at least once a year. Your dentist is trained to look for any early signs that anything might be wrong and will take samples of any tissues they think might be suspicious.

Being Informed about This Disease Can Help Cut Your Risk
Even though mouth cancer is pretty rare, it can help to know what the initial symptoms can be, so you can look out for any early signs in between dental checkups. Signs that something might be wrong include noticing any changes to the colour of your gums, tongue or cheeks, as they may develop white or red patches, or noticing that you have some sore areas that fail to heal properly within a week or two.

Other early signs can include noticing that you have developed lumps in your mouth, even if these are initially painless. These lumps may become painful as the cancer progresses. Mouth cancer can also cause changes to the way your teeth meet together, as it can push the teeth out of position making it more awkward to bite or chew. Another indication that something may be wrong is noticing it has become painful to swallow food or saliva. If you notice any of these early signs then it’s worth contacting your dentist to ask their advice.

You can also help yourself by taking good care of your general health and oral health, and by giving up excess drinking, and those pesky cigarettes. This will also help you maintain a whiter smile, which is always a nice bonus.

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