Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a cancer of the mouth, it usually occurs around the lips, the gums, inside the mouth, on the back of the throat, the tonsils or the salivary glands. This type of cancer seems to be more prominent in men than women and is more likely to surface in people over the age of 40. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption are common key risk factors. Poor dental and oral hygiene due to overlooked Dental Hygiene Tips For Better Oral Health may also increase the risk of oral cancer developing. Oral cancer can be fatal, and if not detected early enough will require surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. This is why early detection of oral cancer is very important.

It is difficult to spot the earliest warning signs of oral cancer and so regular visits to both the dentist and doctor are vital, both will be trained to spot early signs of oral cancer. It is also important to go and visit the dentist or discuss with Oral Health Care Specialist if any of the following are noticed:

  • White or red patches on the gums, tongue or inside of the mouth.
  • Sores on the lips, gums or the inside of the mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal.
  • A lump or thickening on the inside of the cheek that can be felt with the tongue.
  • Swelling of the jaw, that may make dentures fit badly.
  • Change in voice.
  • Numbness or loss of feeling in any part of the mouth.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food.

As mentioned above, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can be causes for the development of oral cancer. Tobacco use is responsible for 80-90% of oral cancers. Smoking is a big contributor to the decline of health in general and the development of oral cancer, and because so many people are unaware of the early symptoms oral cancer often spreads before it is diagnosed.

Once diagnosed with oral cancer, the dentist and oral surgeon will create a treatment plan that fits the specific patient’s requires. Surgery tends to be needed once a diagnosis has been made, and then a course of chemotherapy or radiation is carried out. To protect the tooth enamel, limit the number of snacks and drinks in between meals. Snacks like cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or fruit will be good.

Radiation treatment that is administered for the neck and head area, patients may experience irritation in the mouth, dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing and changes in taste. The treatment may also increase the chance of getting cavities, and this is why good oral hygiene during this time is vital.

Brushing teeth with a soft toothbrush after meals and flossing every day is important to maintain oral health during the cancer therapy. It is essential to avoid tobacco and alcohol and chewing sugar-free gum or candy will help to keep the mouth moist. Before starting the radiation therapy it is important to have a consultation with the dentist and a complete check-up.