Sometimes we avoid seeing signs of our health problems, because we are too afraid to face them head-on. One of the most important forms of care you can provide for yourself is maintaining a healthy oral care regimen with your dentist. Your dental health can reveal many truths about your overall health and wellness. One of the most unexpected health conditions your dentist can spot is oral cancer.
While the thought of oral cancer is admittedly a scary situation, your dentist can potentially save your life if they catch one of the many forms of this disease. The sooner you recognize cancer, the better prognosis your specialist can make.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is abnormal squamous cell growth of the lips, gums, oral cavity, and throat, although it is most commonly found in the first two-thirds of the tongue. About 80% of all oral cancer patients are regular tobacco consumers, but it has also been found in those with consistent sun exposure, a low diet of vegetables, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Additionally, oral cancer can appear in many forms within and around the mouth and neck. The most common signs are: sores or blisters that won’t heal, white or red patches on the lips, jaw, lip, cheek, or neck swelling that causes numbness or movement difficulties, and misaligned teeth.
- One of the first things you can do to prevent oral cancer is to stop smoking. Considered the biggest and most common factor towards oral cancer, stopping this habit can cut down your chances of developing the disease.
- You also want to make sure you are applying sunscreen – at least to your face – on a daily basis. Remembering to apply sunscreen to your lips is a key step as well, as it is commonly forgotten.
- Eat lots of veggies! Proper nutrition is an important aspect of maintaining proper alkaline levels in your body, further decreasing your chances of developing cancer.
- Keep track of your alcohol consumption levels, and stop or reduce your intake of alcohol.
- Make sure you regularly visit the dentist, and brush, floss, and use mouth wash. Your oral care and routine can keep your mouth clean, healthy, and free from bacteria and plaque build up.
If you suspect or are concerned about oral cancer, seek medical help and advisement right away. You may also experience less common symptoms such as: ear aches, bad breath, change in voice, extreme weight loss, extreme fatigue, and slurred speech.
For an oral cancer screening for yourself or a loved one, call Hagerman Dental Care, office of Steven R. Hagerman, DDS at (651)-646-2392, or schedule an appointment online. Dr. Hagerman has been recognized as a “Top Dentist” in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine and the National Consumer Advisory Board, and has been trusted by patients for over 30 years.