Cancer is a word that nobody wants to hear or talk about. When you go to your dentist for a check-up, you are not only examined for cavities and gum disease but you are also being examined for oral cancer (cancer in or around the mouth). This is another reason why you should visit your dentist regularly. The key for surviving oral cancer is detecting the disease early.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Tobacco use in all forms, including cigar smoking, cigarette smoking, pipe smoking or chewing tobacco can definitely increase your risk for oral cancer. More risk factors of oral cancer include: being a Male, family history of cancer and a previous oral cancer diagnosis.
Did you know that there are more risk factors for oral cancer that you might not have known about?
Here are 3 risk factors that are not well known:
1) HPV (sexually transmitted infection)- If you have the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, then you are at risk for oral cancer- especially with some specific forms of HPV.
2) Alcohol abuse – If you drink a lot of alcohol, it increases your risk for oral cancer. If you drink lots of alcohol along with smoking a lot, your risk for oral cancer is even greater.
3) Age- The older you get, the higher your risk is for developing oral cancer especially in people over 40.
Have you recently been to your dentist to be screened for oral cancer? If not, call your dentist to schedule an exam, including an oral cancer screening. If your dentist finds any questionable areas, the sooner you find it and treat it, the better.
Posted on behalf of:
Dr. Farhan Qureshi, DDS
5206 Dawes Ave
Alexandria, VA 22311
The recent death of Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn illustrates the extreme toll using smokeless tobacco can take on your health. Gwynn died at age 54 of complications from salivary gland cancer. He blamed the cancer on his 20-year smokeless tobacco habit.
Smokeless tobacco comes in two main forms: chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is referred to as a wad, chew or plug. It is placed between the cheek and gum or teeth and the nicotine is absorbed through the mouth. Users will spit out the excess dark brown saliva, a habit those around them tend to dislike greatly.
Snuff is tobacco that is ground into a fine powder. Moist snuff is used in a small amount – also called a quid, lipper, pinch or dip – between the cheek and gums, much like chewing tobacco, although the amount is small and designed to be used spit free. Snuff is also sold in powdered form, which is inhaled.
Although death from mouth cancer is certainly a risk with smokeless tobacco, there are other health issues as well. Users can develop an addiction to smokeless tobacco, which is difficult to kick and may lead to smoking cigarettes. You can get leukoplakia, small white lesions in the mouth that can eventually become cancerous.
Other unpleasant side effects include brown or stained teeth, bad breath and cavities. Over time, you can also experience receding gums, gingivitis and even periodontal disease.
Clearly, there are many health consequences of smokeless tobacco. The best precaution against any of these is to stop using smokeless tobacco altogether, but short of that, a trip to the dentist can help spot any problems before they develop into something more serious. Oral cancer screenings also should be a routine part of your regular dental checkups.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Hamir Contractor, Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates
The recent death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn sends a clear message about the risks and dangers of one of major league baseball’s favorite pastimes, chewing tobacco.
Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer. He was only 54 years old.
Gwynn blamed his cancer on chewing tobacco, a habit he had had since he was a rookie. A right fielder considered to be one of the best and most consistent hitters of all time, Gwynn played 20 seasons for the San Diego Padres. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Recent reports say while the incidence of many types of cancers is actually on the decline, oral cancers are on the rise. According to the American Cancer Society, 37,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and 7,300 will die.
Most of the recent spike in oral cancers is reportedly attributed to the spread of HPV, or human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease. Regardless of the cause, officials across the health industry are using Gwynn’s death to illustrate the need for more frequent and thorough oral cancer screenings. In many cases, they say, cancers of the mouth and throat can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages.
Your dentist can screen for oral cancer during your routine dental examination. But if you are experiencing any pain, discomfort or red or white patches within your mouth or throat area, you should contact your doctor or dentist immediately.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates
Oral cancer screening is a critical part of every bi-annual dental check up due to the aggressiveness of the disease if it is not detected and treated early. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer every year. People, who smoke, chew tobacco or drink heavily, are especially at risk.
As a result of most cases not being detected until they are in their advanced stages, oral cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five year survival rate less than 50%. However, if the cancer is detected early, the long term survival rate is over 75%. The best way have the cancer detected is to have regular dental checkups!
During the routine dental exam, the dentist will look for early signs of cancer using two methods, both of which are effective in detecting oral cancer. The first method is a thorough visual exam of the patient’s entire mouth including the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, tongue, area under the tongue, tonsils, and the inside of the mouth.
The second method of oral cancer screening is to have the patient wash out their mouth using a special rinse. The rinse will coat the entire mouth and will bond to any suspicious areas, which are then visible to the dentist using a specialized hand held light. In the event that a suspicious area is detected, the dentist will work with several other doctors, including oral surgeons, to determine if the suspicious area is cancer and then to work out an aggressive treatment program.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Eberhard, Mockingbird Dental
Oral cancer (Mouth Cancer) refers to cancer that develops on any part of the mouth: lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, roof or floor of the mouth. Many people only associate oral cancer with smoking or chewing tobacco, but that is a serious misconception. Anyone can develop oral cancer.
Oral cancers can develop when changes of the DNA cells of the mouth change or mutate. These mutations allow cancer cells to grow, where normal or healthy cells would kill off the cancerous cells. As with all cancers, tumors develop from cancer cells and can spread to infect other parts of the body.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer can include a cold sore that does not heal, a “tumor like” lump on the lining of the mouth, a white or red patch inside the mouth, loose teeth, jaw pain, sore throat, difficulty or painful swallowing. Many of these symptoms are common for other things that simply go away on their own (e.g. a cold, fever blister). However, if you have experienced any of these symptoms and they seem to last for longer than they should, contact your dentist right away. She will be able to screen for oral cancer.
Certain risk factors can increase your risk of mouth cancer. Tobacco use of any kind can contribute to oral cancer, as well as a variety of other cancers. Heavy alcohol use can also be a factor in developing oral cancer because of the high alcohol content that can become toxic to the body. Excessive sun exposure can also cause oral cancer – and people who have repeated fever blisters or cold sores after a beach vacation should take extra precaution by using a high SPF sunscreen and lip protectant.
Oral cancer is known to be one of the “scarier” types of cancers due to the fact that it is not always caught early on. By understanding the risk factors involved, you are able to be aware of your mouth and alert your dentist to anything out of the ordinary. Early detection can mean a long life.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Mitul Patel
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