Oral cancer can be treated when it is discovered early, but it can be deadly if not discovered early. Tens of thousands of people develop oral cancer each year, with the majority of them being men. Most oral cancer is the result of using tobacco - either through chewing or smoking - but sometimes it can occur in those who do not smoke. When alcohol consumption is combined with tobacco use, it can greatly increase the risk of oral cancer.
Oral cancer may initially go unnoticed because it often starts as a tiny red spot, white area or sore somewhere in your mouth. You may ignore it and think it is a common type of mouth sore. Sometimes the sore may be under the tongue or in another spot that is difficult for you to see. More dentists have tools available now to assist in the early detection of oral cancer, even when the initial sores might not yet be apparent to the naked eye. Other symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore that doesn't heal or that bleeds easily, a change in the color of your gums or the tissue in your mouth, difficulty swallowing or chewing, or a sudden change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms find a family dentist who will conduct a visual inspection of your mouth for oral cancer. The dentist may collect some of the suspicious cells and send them to a laboratory for further analysis. If oral cancer is confirmed, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment. You may need to find an oral surgeon to remove the cancer and you may also need to choose a periodontist to restore any lost bone and gum support.
Steps to Take to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Quit smoking or chewing tobacco.
If you cannot quit tobacco completely, try to cut back on your consumption of alcohol.
Sometimes a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the possibility of these lesions.
Choose a dentist who performs oral cancer screenings as a routine part of any dental checkup.
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