What is Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer is cancer of the mouth (which includes lips, inside of the lips, cheeks, teeth, gums, up to two-thirds of the tongue from the front, and the roof of the mouth) and the middle of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue (this area is known as oropharynx).

What is Cancer?

Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, which can be very harmful to the body, as it can also spread to other areas of the body.

How common is Oral Cancer?

More that 10,000 people get diagnosed in the United States of Oral cancer every year. Of those who get diagnosed with oral cancer, only about 60 percent would survive after 5 years. Early detection brings about better result following treatment.

What are Oral Cancer Symptoms?

The following are symptoms to watch out for:

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away in more than two weeks, in any area of your mouth/ throat ( can also feel like something is stuck in the back of the throat)
  • Visible red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in 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; this can also mean inability to wear your dentures or any mouth appliance.
  • Feeling of numbness, pain in any area of the mouth/throat might be a sign of mouth or throat cancer
  • Hoarseness, sore throat, loss of voice.
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you notice these symptoms, see your dentist, especially if they have persisted for at least two weeks

Factors that increase the chances of getting Oral Cancer

Smoking: Smokers of cigarettes, cigars, pipe are more likely than non-smokers to get cancers.

Learn more about the negative effect of smoking on oral health

5 steps to quit smoking

Young adults and E-cigarettes

Consumption of Alcohol: People who consume an excess amount of alcohol are more likely to get oral cancers

Age and Sex: Older men are more likely to get cancers

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease, and has being found to cause certain cancers like cervical cancer, has also being found to cause mouth cancers. These develop typically in the throat, at the base of the tongue and in the folds of the tonsils.

Early diagnosis is key to better treatment outcomes. Regular dental check-ups that include examination of the whole head and neck regions, including the throat can be life saving in detecting oral cancer early.
How can I prevent Oral Cancers?

Be aware of the risk factors that increase the chances of oral cancers. According to American Dental Association (ADA) “Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer as they get older. If you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or have a poor diet, changing these habits can decrease the chances of developing oral cancer.

Certain strains of HPV can also put you at risk. The CDC recommends that 11- to 12-year-old boys and girls get two doses of HPV vaccine to prevent cervical and other less common genital cancers. It is possible that the HPV vaccine might also prevent head and neck cancers – since the vaccine prevents an initial infection with HPV types that can cause head and neck cancers – but the studies currently underway do not yet have sufficient data to say whether the HPV vaccine will prevent these cancers”.

Remember, early detection is key to better treatment outcomes of oral cancer, so visit your dentist regularly. Here at Smile League Dental, your oral health is our priority. Schedule your Dental checkup today by calling us on:
815-782-6243/ emailing us: smileleaguedental@gmail.com.