Cancer is a disease that occurs when uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body occurs. These cells are referred to as cancerous and malignant. Oral cancer occurs on the lips (usually the lower lip), inside the mouth, salivary glands, tonsils on the back of the throat, esophagus, and the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth. It occurs more frequently in men than women, and is most likely to strike people over 40.
Are you familiar with the signs of mouth cancer? According to the National Institutes of Health, 2.9 percent of all cancers involve the pharynx and the oral cavity, which includes the mouth, tongue and throat. But some things can put you at higher risk than others. Smoking and drinking, for example, both increase your risk. Older individuals are also more susceptible, often due to past health habits and a naturally lower resistance to infection.
The mouth takes a lot of wear and tear. Hot and spicy foods can create burns, whereas hard food products and poor brushing technique can cause abrasions to the cheeks and gum tissue. Luckily, this kind of trauma will usually heal in seven to 14 days. Some sores are even painless and just appear red or white, or a combination of both. These also may improve over a two-week time period. If the sore in the mouth persists, however, it needs to be checked by a dentist.
Unlike other parts of your body, it’s not easy to do a real self examination. You need a mirror and good lighting to see the surfaces of your mouth. Even then, there are many places that just won’t be visible. You can also use your index finger to feel for bumps, but without visual inspection, this method will not yield much as to the source of the problem.
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can also affect a patient’s dental health. Common symptoms include dry mouth; difficulty chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking; tooth decay; a burning feeling in the mouth or throat; mouth sores; and infections in the mouth.
Visit DH Dental today to see how we can help with your oral care.