Today may be April Fools Day, but we want to address a serious topic in this post — oral cancer.
We know it’s not a pleasant subject, but it is a good time to review what you can and should do to help prevent oral cancer. Like other cancers, oral cancer can affect anyone.
Fortunately, you can take steps that reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Regular dental checkups, like we do during our routine dental exams at Galleria of Smiles, should be part of that effort.
Keep reading to learn more things you can do to protect yourself against this disease. Start by making an appointment at our dentist office in Sand Springs, OK. You can fill out our online form or call us.
Get Checked By A Professional
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that an average of 1 person dies from oral cancer every hour in the United States. We aren’t trying to scare you, we just want you to be aware of the facts.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, after all.
Early detection plays an important role in improving your survival rate.
For comparison’s sake, 80 to 90 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than 5 years when their cancer is detected early. That survival rate drops significantly, to around 50 percent, in patients who were diagnosed in the late stages.
Going to the dentist is only part of this process. When you visit us, we are always on the lookout for things that look like they shouldn’t.
While we are looking for tooth decay and gum disease, we are also looking for other symptoms, such as red sores or white patches on the soft tissues of your mouth.
If we notice anything out of the ordinary, we will let you know so you can get tested to know for sure. We never want anyone to have oral cancer, but if you do, we would much rather find it sooner than later.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile, call us to make an appointment.
Reduce Your Risk
There’s no way to completely eliminate your risk of developing a disease. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Here are a few things anyone can do:
▶︎ Quit Or Avoid Tobacco
Tobacco is far and away the most common cause of oral cancer (as well as many other cancers) in the United States. Whether you smoking, dip, or chew, you are raising your risk of developing oral cancer.
At the low end, experts estimate that 70 percent of cases of oral cancer are connected to tobacco use.
And in case you think vaping is better, we want you to be aware of new research that suggests that vaping, too, can increase your oral cancer risk.
If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start. If you do, we encourage you to quit. You can get help by contact the Oklahoma Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW.
▶︎ Limit Alcohol Use
Beer, hard liquor, and wine have all been found to increase your risk of developing oral cancer. The research suggests that the amount of alcohol consume plays a role. Drinking excessively raises your risk more.
Many people also drink while using tobacco, and that can be a deadly combination for a variety of reasons. As it relates to oral cancer, alcohol can dry out the soft tissues of your mouth. This makes it more likely that the many carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco products will be absorbed into your gums and cheeks.
▶︎ Protect Your Loves Ones Against HPV
In most people, the human papillomavirus has little to no effect. However, for about 1 percent of the population, HPV can develop into one or another kind of cancer, including oral cancer.
This is why the HPV vaccine is recommended for adolescents around age 11 or 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
What To Watch For
You should call your doctor if you notice any of these persistent symptoms:
- A sore throat that doesn’t go away
- A growth or lump on or inside your mouth
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
- A noticeable change in the fit of dentures
- Loose teeth
In the meantime, do yourself a favor, schedule a dental cleaning and exam at Galleria of Smiles. Our dental professionals will examine your mouth, and we’ll let you know if we notice anything unusual.