Mouth cancer is a serious disease with significant impact on affected patients. It kills over 1,800 people in the UK every year, more than cervical and testicular cancer combined.
It is important to raise awareness about mouth cancer especially as 9 out of 10 people don’t consider themselves at risk.
So, what are the risks factors?
Top of the list of oral cancer risk factors are the usual offenders of smoking, tobacco and betel nut chewing and alcohol.
Others risk factors include the human papilloma virus HPV, previous cancer, conditions like lichen planus and poor diet.
This is by no mean an extensive list of factors leading to oral cancer but demonstrate the importance of smoking cessation and balanced alcohol consumption.
How can your cosmetic dentist and the dental team help?
Dentists look for early signs of mouth cancer during the regular dental check-up appointments. At the same time other dental workers like hygienist and therapist are all asked to conduct oral cancer assessment at every visit of your professional teeth cleaning.
The cancer screen procedure is quick and painless. It involves visual inspection of the skin, lips and mouth. The cosmetic dentist will also palpate the neck and jaw area and examine both the top and underside of your tongue. These oral cancer screenings should be done every six months.
If there is any concern, we usually recommend immediate referral to a specialist for a biopsy.
It is also important for you to recognise the warning signals so you can bring them to the attention of your cosmetic dentist right away.
Signs and Symptoms
Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue and throat, as well as the salivary glands. Early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you’ll want to visit your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks:
- Persistent ulcers, swelling, lumps or thick patches
- Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- Numbness, pain or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
Prevention is better than cure!
Daily oral hygiene habits and regular checks with the dental team prevent dental problems but also help monitoring any sign of oral cancer. But by regulating certain lifestyle choices – smoking, alcohol use and sun exposure, for example – you can significantly lower your risk of developing oral cancer.
If you have any question, please contact us…we will be happy to assist.