Oral cancer is scary. In the family of mouth cancers, oral cancer includes cancers of the tongue, lips, cheeks, throat, and hard or soft palate. If not detected or treated early enough it can result in death, mainly due to the fact that it often goes undiagnosed and is detected too late. Read on to learn more about how to work with your dentist to cut your risk.
Schedule Regular Appointments
Visiting your dentist twice a year is an essential key to maintaining a healthy oral regime. April is Cancer month in Canada and we also offer free cancer screening at our locations to help detect any signs early. However, if you feel you’re at risk, visit your dentist sooner rather than later so they can check your gums, tongue, and soft mouth tissues for any signs of cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer
If cancer is detected in its early stages, you have a much better prognosis for full recovery. Here are some of the signs to look out for.
- Mouth sores
- Bleeding in the mouth that lasts more than a week
- Lumps in the mouth or neck
- Pain in your mouth lasting more than two weeks
- Dramatic voice changes, especially in smokers
- Persistent earaches in both ears
- Lower lip and chin numbness
Eliminate Bad Habits
According to the Mayo Clinic, oral cancer is contracted by heavy smoking, drinking, excessive sun exposure, human papillomavirus and a poor immune system. This is probably why your dentist will always advise you to either quit or cut back smoking as soon as possible and to limit alcohol consumption.
Eat Healthy Foods
Having a balanced diet, eating properly and exercising regularly are ways to ward off oral cancer. Not only do healthy foods prevent tooth decay, they also drastically reduce your chances of getting cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society identifies beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables (i.e. bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.), dark green leafy vegetables, flax seed, garlic, grapes, green tea, and soy as cancer-preventing foods and drinks.
Have questions? Visit any of our locations to speak with our dentists or to request an appointment for an oral cancer screening.
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A version of this post was first published on Altima Dental Blog