Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the mouth, tongue, lips, salivary glands, tonsils, and throat. Each year in the United States alone, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. While it is treatable if caught early enough, the mortality rate for late-stage oral cancer is very high. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of oral cancer’s symptoms and take steps to protect yourself from developing it.
What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
There are several common signs and symptoms associated with oral cancer. These include: persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- unusual lumps or bumps in your mouth
- red or white patches in your mouth
- numbness in your mouth or face
- difficulty chewing or swallowing
- facial pain
- unexplained weight loss
Oran cancer might be mistaken for periodontitis because many of the same symptoms are present. However, knowing the differences between oral cancer and periodontitis is essential to get a proper diagnosis if you’re suffering from either condition as soon as possible.
Periodontitis is a chronic infection of the gums and supporting tissue. This is usually caused by a buildup of plaque or tartar, leading to inflammation and permanent damage to the gums and underlying bones. Periodontitis can cause redness, bleeding in the gums, and bad breath or taste in the mouth. The main difference is that periodontitis is a bacterial infection, while several factors can cause oral cancer.
Various factors can cause oral cancer. Here are some of the most common:
Smoking & Tobacco Use
Smoking and using any tobacco product (including chew, snuff, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading risk factors associated with oral cancer. Even if you’re not a smoker, exposure to secondhand smoke can still put you at risk. In addition, tobacco use has been linked to cancers in the lips, tongue, and throat—so it’s best to avoid it altogether!
Excessive alcohol consumption contributes significantly to your overall risk of developing oral cancer. If you drink more than three alcoholic beverages per day regularly, then you should be aware that your increased alcohol consumption could be putting you at a higher risk for oral cancer.
Age & Gender
Oral cancer typically affects people over 40 more than younger people; however, anyone can develop oral cancer regardless of age or gender. Men tend to have higher rates of oral cancer than women – likely due to higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use among men than women – but anyone can get it. So everyone needs to stay aware!
How Can I Protect Myself from Oral Cancer?
Protecting yourself from oral cancer is crucial. Here are some ways that’ll stop you from getting the disease.
Most people don’t know this, but the gaps between their teeth can be potential breeding grounds for oral cancer. Consider installing robust dental implants in your mouth to fill those gaps to protect yourself. Implants are worth it if you try to avoid oral cancer altogether.
One of the most important steps is to schedule regular checkups with your dentist. During these visits, your dentist will look for any signs of infection or inflammation that may be early warning signs of oral cancer. Early detection is critical to successfully treating any cancer, including oral cancer.
Quit Smoking/Limit Alcohol Intake
Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol are two significant risk factors for developing oral cancer. If you smoke or drink excessively, it is vital to make lifestyle changes as soon as possible to reduce your chances of developing this type of cancer. Quitting smoking has proven benefits in reducing the risk of oral cancer and improving overall health and quality of life. Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption can also help improve overall health and reduce the likelihood of developing certain types of cancers.
Eating a healthy diet is also an essential step toward preventing oral cancer. A balanced diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins such as fish and poultry, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products such as yogurt or cheese, and healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil. Eating various foods from each food group will ensure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals for optimal health and wellness. Additionally, limiting processed foods can help keep your body free from toxins that may increase the chances of developing certain cancers.
Oral cancer can be a severe condition, but there are ways people can protect themselves from developing it. These proactive measures will help people maintain optimal health while reducing our chances of developing serious illnesses later.