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Safeguarding Your Smile from Oral Cancer

April 2, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drheim @ 4:47 pm
a person attending a dental visit

Oral cancer is quite a serious issue—it’s estimated that each year, around 54,000 cases are diagnosed, with around 40% of those cases having a pretty dismal outlook. But fortunately, as deadly as the disease may be, it’s also among the most preventable types of cancer out there. Here’s more from your dentist about this type of cancer, some of its warning signs, and some ways to safeguard your smile from it.

A Closer Look at Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is generally categorized into two groups: cancers of the oral cavity, and cancers of the oropharynx. Cancers of the oral cavity affect the lips, teeth, gums, front of the tongue, and cheeks, as well as both the roof and floor of the mouth. Cancers of the oropharynx target the throat, tonsils, and base of the tongue.

A few common risk factors that are associated with oral cancer include:

  • Smoking and using tobacco products
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Sun or radiation exposure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Old age
  • Other types of head or neck cancer

Warning Signs to Watch For

Although your dentist is trained to be able to detect precancerous conditions, it’s still important for you to know about certain warning signs and symptoms. Call your dentist if any of these issues last for longer than two weeks:

  • Swelling in the mouth, throat, or neck
  • Hard lumps near your tongue or on your cheeks
  • Abnormalities that bleed easily
  • Red, pink, black, or white sores that don’t heal
  • Difficulty speaking, biting, chewing, and swallowing
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • The feeling something is stuck in your throat

Preventing Oral Cancer

The absolute best thing you can do to prevent oral cancer is visit your dentist regularly—every time you go in for a checkup, they’ll conduct an oral cancer screening in addition to cleaning your teeth! These comprehensive examinations allow your dentist to identify anything that might indicate oral cancer; the disease isn’t always obvious, so allowing an expert to look around will ensure that things don’t worsen before it’s too late.

Of course, you should also take measures to lead a healthier lifestyle; kicking your smoking habit and reducing your alcohol intake will reduce your risk of not just oral cancer, but several other notable health problems. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is also integral in the lifelong fight against oral cancer. Even the small things, like using lip balm with sunscreen or wearing a hat to cover your face, can ultimately contribute to a cancer-free smile and happier life!

About the Practice

The team at Heim & Carroll DMD, LLC is thrilled to provide patients and families in the Glastonbury, CT area with an elite level of dental care! Under the expert leadership of Dr. Brad Heim and Dr. John Carroll, they offer a wide range of services that are certain to help you achieve and maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. If you have any questions about the blog or you’re due for your next checkup, feel free to contact the practice online or by phone for assistance: (860) 633-2031.

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