Oral cancer is not well known to the general public because it is rarer than other types of cancer. This disease is characterized by the abnormal growth and spread of cells in the mouth. Oral cancer can be detected early by your dentist.
All parts of the mouth can be affected by this cancer. Cancer cells are most commonly found on the lips, gums, tongue, tonsils, salivary glands, back of the throat, roof of the mouth, and inside the lips or cheeks.
Signs and symptoms
If you notice any changes in your oral health, you may want to see your dentist so that he or she (or they) can assess the situation. Here is a basic list of symptoms that could be a warning sign of oral cancer.
- Unexplained oral bleeding
- Changes in taste or tongue sensation
- Nodules in the neck, on the tongue or on the lips
- Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing
- Ulcers or wounds that do not heal
- Persistent sore or hoarse throat; change in voice
- Red or white spot on the tongue, lips or in the mouth
If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist. The earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances of recovery.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, approximately 5,000 people in Canada are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, nearly 70% of whom are men. Here are some factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer:
- Age: the older you get, the greater the risk
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): More and more research links HPV to oral cancer
- Diet: a person who eats few fruits and vegetables is at greater risk
- Poor oral health
- Sun exposure, specifically for cancer on the lips
Prevention is key
As with any disease, prevention is key. In addition to avoiding the risk factors listed above, your VMR Dental Health dentists advise you to do the following:
- Brush your teeth well in the morning and evening and floss daily
- Be alert to signs or symptoms and consult your dentist if in doubt
- See your dentist regularly (at least once a year, if not twice) for a regular check-up.
During your exam, your VMR Dental Health dentists use ViziLite PRO, a state-of-the-art device that makes it easier to detect oral cancers. In less than three minutes, this painless tool provides a thorough assessment of the condition of your mouth!
For any emergency or for your annual appointment, contact VMR Dental Health today.
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