April was National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, but the threat of this disease is ongoing. Researchers forecast that over 40,000 people will be diagnosed this year and more than 10,000 will succumb to oral cancer. Your dentist in Huber Heights is eager to change the growing trend of diagnoses by educating you on what warning signs to be on the lookout for and the steps you can take to prevent it.
What is Oral Cancer?
Cancerous cells are living mutations that grow uncontrollably and attack your normal, healthy cells. When cancer develops orally, it can affect the following:
- Mouth – In the mouth, traces of the disease can be found in the lips, cheek lining, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue and the roof.
- Throat – When it enters the throat, oral cancer may be found in the tonsils and on the back of the tongue.
These are the Symptoms to Lookout for
It’s important to pay attention to changes in your oral health, because some of them could be early warning signs of oral cancer, which include:
- A sore or irritated throat that doesn’t seem to get any better
- Red or white patches on the soft tissues in the mouth
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
Here’s How to Fight Back
Thankfully, there are ways to fight oral cancer and to prevent its development. These tips involve some of the same things you’ve been told before, regarding your oral health, but they stand repeating:
- Visiting Your Dentist – When you maintain semi-annual visits with your dentist for cleanings and examinations, you benefit from having the harmful bacteria and plaque cleared away that can contribute to developing the disease, and you’ll receive a full oral cancer screening to ensure that nothing is lurking.
- Practicing Excellent Oral Hygiene – Another way to clear away bacteria is to brush and floss your teeth at least two times a day. These dental care habits also help to fight oral cancer by removing excess food particles that get the whole process of tooth decay and bacteria accumulation started.
- Eating Healthier – Not only will eating healthier protect your heart and decrease inches along your waistline, but it will also influence your oral health. Thus, be sure to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet to lessen the acids in your mouth that contribute to tooth decay and oral cancer development.
So now that you are better informed about how to care for your mouth, teeth and gums and protect yourself from oral cancer, the next step is to reach out to your Huber Heights dentist to schedule your first appointment.
About the Author
A graduate of Case Western Reserve Dental School, Dr. James A. Striebel has been practicing dentistry for over 20 years. To stay abreast of the latest advancements in the field of dentistry, he remains affiliated with several professional organizations. Dr. Striebel can be reached for more information through his website.