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Aisha Nasir, DDS
What Is Mouth Cancer?
Sweet Tooth Family Dental
. http://sweettoothdentalva.com/

What Is Mouth Cancer?

Most people have heard of cancer affecting parts of the body such as the breasts or lungs. However, cancer can also occur in the mouth, where the disease can affect the lips, tongue, gums, palate, cheeks and throat. Anyone can be affected by oral cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not.

Oral and pharyngeal cancer strikes an estimated 39,000 Americans each year. An estimated 8,000 people die of these cancers annually. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women.

Most cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking are the main forms of tobacco. Alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer, and if tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater. Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips. Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The symptoms of mouth or
throat cancer can include

A sore or irritation that doesn't
go away

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

Early Screening Saves Lives

During your dental visit, your dentist will talk to you about your health history. The dentist examines the inside of your mouth and your tongue with the help of a small mirror. Remember, your dentist is able to see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.

Regular visits to your dentist can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily. If your dentist finds something unusual they will refer you to a specialist. It is important to visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, even if you wear dentures.

When brushing your teeth, look out for any changes in your mouth, and report any red or white patches, or ulcers, that have not cleared up within three weeks.

When exposed to the sun, be sure to use a good protective sun screen, and put the correct type of barrier cream on your lips.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise, help the body to protect itself, in general, from most cancers. And, definitely cut down on your smoking and drinking.

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