Preventive dental care is essential in keeping your smile not only beautiful but healthy too! Your dentist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning and polish, ensuring that any buildup of plaque and tartar is washed away. They will also give you a complete examination to check for any oral health issues before they become more serious. One of the things your dentist will check for is oral cancer. By detecting this disease early, you can treat it before it worsens or spreads. Read on to learn about the risk factors and symptoms of oral cancer.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
It’s estimated that nearly 54,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year. The most significant risk factor is tobacco use. Studies have revealed that people who smoke or use chewing tobacco are more likely to develop cancer in their mouths, with the chances increasing with how often they partake in the habit.
However, there are other risk factors to be aware of, including:
- Gender: Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer.
- Age: The majority of oral cancer patients are over the age of 55.
- Weight: Research has found that excess body weight may increase the risk of cancer in the throat area near the back of the mouth.
- Poor nutrition: People who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables may be at a greater risk of suffering from oral cancer.
- UV light: Unprotected sun exposure can increase the risk of developing cancer on your lips.
- HPV infection: In the past few decades, there has been an increasing number of oral cancer cases linked to HPV.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
In addition to attending your dental checkups every six months, you can be proactive in your oral health by being familiar with the warning signs of oral cancer. This can help you catch it in its early stages. Common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Sores in the mouth that don’t heal within two weeks.
- Patches of discolored soft tissue.
- Unusual lumps or hard spots.
- Odd growths (tissue that is raised above the surrounding area).
- A lump that can be felt on the outside of the neck that lasts two weeks or more.
- Areas that bleed easily when touched.
Keep in mind, nothing should replace an oral cancer screening from your dentist. Since it is a normal part of every dental checkup, it will be another thing to conveniently check off your list as you care for your health. Your dentist not only will help keep your smile radiant, but also help keep your oral health in top condition!
About the Author
Dr. Zachary Brice and his team at Brice Dental keep the smiles of San Antonio whole, healthy, and beautiful. He earned his dental degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School and has taken numerous advanced courses to enhance his skills. With the use of advanced dental technology and personalized plans, he offers a full range of services, including preventive care to keep your oral health in top condition. To schedule an appointment, contact him through his website or call (210) 680-3611.