What is Oral Cancer?
Oral Cancer is cancer that occurs in and around the mouth. The most common location for oral cancer is on the tongue, but it can also develop on the floor of the mouth, cheeks, gums, throat or roof of the mouth. In fact, there has been a recent increase in the occurrences of cancers on the soft palate and in the throat. Screening for Oral Cancer is part of the standard of routine dental care that we provide to our Weston area dental office patients, both adults and children.
What causes Oral Cancer?
Like many cancers, oral cancer appears to have a genetic component and is linked to aging; studies have shown that men over the age of 40 are the most vulnerable to oral cancer. Oral cancer also has more concrete causes – studies have linked a variety of lifestyle choices to higher oral cancer rates. One of the largest (and fastest growing) causes of oral cancer is the HPV (Human papillomavirus) virus. Several HPV variants commonly cause oral cancer, so if you know you may have HPV be sure to notify your dentist. Other major behavioral causes of oral cancer are tobacco usage and excessive drinking. Oral Cancer has also been linked to poor oral hygiene, a poor diet (especially if it doesn’t include enough fruits and vegetables), bacterial infection, and rough surfaces within the mouth (either natural or artificial, such as caused by a poorly made denture).
What can I do about Oral Cancer?
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to not use tobacco; Smoking and other forms of tobacco usage account for up to 75% of oral cancers. You should also try to avoid the other causes mentioned in the list above, especially by maintaining proper oral hygiene and eating fruits and vegetables. However, all of this is no guarantee of preventing oral cancer. Fortunately, oral cancer that is caught early is very treatable (80 to 90% success rate). In order to catch oral cancer early, our Weston area dental office recommends being screened for oral cancer at least once a year. At our Weston office, this doesn’t require anything special – we check for unusual lesions and other early warning signs of oral cancer as part of our regular preventative dentistry appointment (for both adults and children). Oral cancer is just one more reason why it is important to your overall health to schedule regular checkups at our Weston dental office.