Sometimes in life, you have to get serious. Today’s post is one of the most serious we’ve shared.
It’s about cancer, specifically oral cancer.
This probably isn’t the reason you visit the dentist, but it is something we are concerned about when patients visit any of our eight Stonecreek Dental Care locations in Ohio.
When you schedule a dental cleaning and exam , we will be looking to remove plaque and tartar. We’ll be looking for any sign of gum disease or tooth decay, too.
But we’ll also be watching for anything suspicious, anything that could suggest oral cancer. Our hope is always that your mouth will be perfectly healthy. At the same time, we will share anything that we are concerned about during your oral cancer screening.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and we want to use today’s post to let you know what you can do to reduce your risk of this deadly disease and the symptoms you should watch for.
To schedule a cleaning and exam with an oral cancer screening, contact the nearest Stonecreek Dental Care office today.
The Biggest Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
You can’t completely eliminate your chance of getting cancer. However, in 93 percent of cases, the cause or causes are known, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation . Because of this, we also know the biggest risk factors for this disease.
The No. 1 risk factor should not be a surprise to anyone. Tobacco use is the most common cause of oral cancer in the United States and throughout the world. Researchers have identified more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals in various tobacco problems.
It’s not just cigarettes, either. Any tobacco use — including smokeless tobacco — will increase your risk of some form of oral cancer. It won’t surprise you to know that your risk of oral cancer increases with more frequent tobacco use.
Quitting tobacco will lower your risk. If you are looking to quit, it helps to have support. One place you can start is the Ohio Department of Health . Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to learn more about their tobacco cessation program.
Alcohol use is No. 2 on the list of oral cancer risk factors. This doesn’t mean having a glass of wine you have with dinner. However, research has demonstrated that people who consume 21 or more drinks per week are at a much greater risk of developing oral cancer.
If you combine alcohol consumption with tobacco use, then you are compounding your risk. Alcohol causes your mouth to become dry. A dry mouth will absorb chemicals, like those found in tobacco, more quickly than a wet mouth will.
Health experts have been working hard to raise awareness about another cause of oral cancer, the human papillomavirus . We don’t want to get to specific about HPV, but it is incredibly common. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 80 percent of the population with contract HPV during their lives.
The good news for 99 percent of people is that HPV has little or no effect on their health. For the other 1 percent, unfortunately, HPV can be fatal. Certain strains of HPV are known to cause cervical and oral cancer. This is why health experts also recommend that people get vaccinated against HPV around 11 or 12 years of age, which is before most people are exposed to this virus.
Symptoms You Should Know
We can’t overstate the value of early detection.
The survival rate for people’s whose oral cancer is detected in the early stages? 80 to 90 percent
The survival rate for people’s whose oral cancer is detected in the late stages? 57 percent
And sadly, most oral cancer is detected in the latter stage of the disease.
With this in mind, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the potential symptoms of oral cancer. It may not turn out to be anything. We think it’s better to find out early that it’s nothing than to find out late that is a reason to be concerned.
A persistent feeling of hoarseness or that you have a sore throat that doesn’t seem to get betters is one symptom. Another cause for concern would be a sore that doesn’t seem to be getting better . This sore may bleed easily as well.
You also should pay attention to discoloration of the soft tissues of your mouth. These maybe patches of red, white, or a combination of both .
You may have difficulty chewing or swallowing . Last but not least, you should have any lumps in your mouth, throat, or neck checked by your doctor.
Visit Us Soon
We know that oral cancer screenings are not the main reason you come to Stonecreek Dental Care. But they are one of the many reasons we hope you will visit us soon.
To make an appointment, contact the location closest to you today.