Oral cancer is a deadly disease that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. According to recent statistics, over 53,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. For about 18 percent, it will be deadly. The good news is that early detection can significantly increase the chances of survival. That’s why knowing oral cancer’s signs and symptoms and scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist is essential. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can take steps to protect yourself from this deadly disease. We’ll also explore the connection between oral health issues and cancer and provide tips on maintaining good oral health. By the end of this article, you’ll better understand the importance of oral cancer awareness and be better equipped to protect your oral health.
Fight Oral Disease: Know the Facts
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the mouth and throat. It can affect the gums, lips, tongue, and other parts of the mouth. It can also affect the salivary glands and the floor of the mouth. In most cases, it is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Oral cancer can be difficult to detect because it often doesn’t produce any symptoms until it is advanced. However, some signs may indicate oral cancer. These can include a sore or irritation in the mouth that doesn’t go away, a lump or thick patch in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, or a change in the voice. In addition to these symptoms, some people may experience unexplained weight loss, a sore throat, or a lingering bad taste in the mouth.
It’s essential to see a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, as early detection and treatment of oral cancer can significantly improve your chances of recovery. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and may order tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or biopsy to make a diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Depending on the type of cancer and its stage, your doctor may also recommend a combination of treatments.
Oral cancer can be frightening but can be managed with early detection and treatment. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. Also, prevention is critical. Taking steps to reduce your risk of oral cancer is an investment in your long-term health.
Be proactive, and help prevent oral cancer
Improve Your Diet: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of oral cancer. In addition, avoid processed and sugary foods as they contain carcinogenic compounds that can increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol: Smoking is the most significant risk factor for oral cancer, so it’s essential to avoid all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco. Drinking alcohol in excess can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer, so it’s important to drink in moderation and avoid binge drinking.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Regular visits to the dentist can help detect any abnormal cells or changes in the mouth that could indicate early signs of oral cancer.
Protect Yourself from the Sun: UV radiation from the sun can cause damage to the lips and mouth, making it important to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on your lips when spending time outdoors.
Avoid human papillomavirus (HPV): Sexual contact spreads HPV and links to an increased risk of developing oral cancer. To prevent the spread of HPV, it’s crucial to practice safe sex and to get vaccinated against HPV if you’re eligible.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Good oral hygiene prevents oral cancer. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly to ensure your mouth is healthy.
Avoid Smokeless Tobacco: Smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff and chewing tobacco, can increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
Following these steps can help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer and ensure your mouth stays healthy.
Other severe problems caused by oral disease:
Cardiovascular Disease: Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
Diabetes: Diabetes can increase the risk of oral health issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and dry mouth.
Respiratory Disease: Oral bacteria can travel to the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory infections.
Pregnancy Complications: Poor oral health can increase the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight.
Osteoporosis: Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone loss.
Cognitive Impairment: Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Cancer: Poor oral health can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including oral, head, and neck cancer.
Mental Health Issues: Poor oral health has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
While a toothache is annoying, it may not be a major concern, but poor oral health can lead to serious health issues. For example, a toothache can be caused by an infected root canal, an abscessed tooth, a cracked tooth, or a cavity. Typical oral health problems include gum disease, oral thrush (a yeast infection in the mouth), bad breath, and tooth decay.
Poor oral health choices can also lead to oral cancer, the second-most common type in the United States, behind skin cancer. It’s important to remember that there are many different types of oral cancer and that many people who get it don’t have any symptoms. However, getting checked regularly by your doctor can help you catch the disease early.