Has it been a significant amount of time since you’ve last been to a dental check-up? You may be good about daily oral care and wonder how important it may be. Between all the obligations in your schedule and trying to find a little time for yourself, it can be hard to find a minute. However, a visit to your dentist is about more than just keeping your smile bright. It can literally be a life-saving visit. By not visiting your dentist, you may be putting your health at serious risk. Evidence from recent studies highlights a greater risk of oral cancer in those with poor oral health.
Understanding Oral Cancer
The cells in our body are consistently growing, multiplying, and dying. Cancer cells are created with faulty instructions that lead to abnormal behavior. When this occurs in our oral cavity, it’s known as oral cancer. These cells can attack and overgrow other cells, causing damage to the structures in your mouth.
Oral cancer can occur anywhere inside the oral cavity, which includes your:
- Palate (roof of your mouth)
- The area under the tongue
Most often, oral cancer occurs on the tongue, lips but can happen anywhere in the mouth. Another area it can form is in the rear of the mouth. This area of the mouth is known as the oropharynx. Oral cancer that occurs here is known by a specific name, oropharyngeal cancer. The areas affected by this form of cancer include:
- The rear portion of the palate
- The back of the tongue
- The tonsils
- The tissues of the upper throat
Oral cancer often can be mistaken for other conditions or diseases that affect the throat, lips, and mouth. The biggest indicator is that it doesn’t heal, and it doesn’t go away. It most often appears as a persistent lump or sore. The following symptoms are potential indicators of oral cancer:
- Red or white patches in the mouth and throat
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Chronic halitosis
- A lump in the neck
- Loose teeth
The specific causes of oral cancer are unknown. However, using chewing tobacco, cigarettes, or alcohol in excess increases your risk. You are also at notably greater risk if you spend a lot of time in the sun (lip cancer) or have a history of oral cancer in your family. Recent studies indicate that poor oral hygiene can also be a cause of oral cancer.
Understanding The Link Between Oral Hygiene and Cancer
The National Center for Biotechnology Information in India performed a study on the topic of oral hygiene and cancer. The results indicated that poor oral hygiene significantly increased the risk of contracting oral cancer. This was increased even further in those who used chewing tobacco.
Make sure that you maintain a schedule of regular dental visits to lower your risks. Oral cancer is easily treated when caught in its earliest stages but can become difficult to treat later on. Each visit to your dentist is a chance for them to catch oral cancer as it’s developing. Schedule your next bi-annual visit today.