What Is Oral Cancer? Common Symptoms, Causes And Early Prevention

When it comes to dental health, many individuals focus more on avoiding cavities or getting rid of bad breath. Unfortunately, they don’t think about taking precautionary steps to prevent oral cancers. Cancer can be developed anywhere in your body, including throat and mouth. However, oral cancer or cancer of the oral cavity can strike at any age whether you use tobacco or not. That is why it is good to be aware of the signs and learn how to prevent them. Continue reading this informative blog to learn about oral cancer, including common causes, symptoms and early prevention.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer also known as the cancer that develops on the throat or mouth, it can sometimes be connected to a larger cancer group such as the neck and head cancer. It appears as the uncontrollable growth of cells that doesn’t go away. It is more prevalent in males than in females and usually develop in cheek lining, lips, soft palate, hard palate, salivary glands, gums, tongue and beneath the tongue area. Oral cancer is said to be life-threatening but if detected and treated in the early stages, it is highly curable!

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Early signs of mouth cancer or oral cancer are often mistaken for other issues, such as common cold or toothache. If persistent symptoms are causing discomfort and last for several weeks, it is imperative to see a dental professional so that, if oral cancer is present, it may be diagnosed as early as possible. Given below are some of the most common mouth cancer signs and symptoms: 

  • Persistent bad breath and mouth pain 
  • Persistent mouth and lip sores that won’t heal 
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food 
  • Bleeding from the mouth 
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Tongue, chin, lips or neck numbness 
  • Earache that won’t go away 
  • One or more loose teeth 
  • A white or red patch on the tongue, mouth or gums 
  • Stiffness and pain in the jaw 
  • Changes in speech 
  • A lump in the neck 
  • Poorly fitting dentures 

Well, experiencing any of these above-mentioned symptoms doesn’t mean that you have oral cancer, but it is worth checking with a dentist or doctor. In case any of these symptoms or signs persist for more than a week, a specialist may recommend additional tests to check for cancer of the oral cavity. As with other types of cancer, it is critical to diagnose mouth or oral cancer in its early stages, when more treatment options may be available.

What Are The Causes of Oral Cancer?

The major risk factors for most oral cancers are excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption. Other factors that can increase your risk of oral cancer include: 

  • Excessive sun (UV rays) exposure to your lips 
  • Family history of oral cancers or other cancers 
  • Poor oral hygiene and gum disease 
  • human papillomavirus or HPV (A sexually transmitted virus or infection) 
  • A weakened immune system 
  • Unhealthy eating habits

How is oral or Mouth Cancer Treated?

Once a diagnosis of mouth cancer is confirmed, it is usually treated the same way other cancers are treated such as with surgical treatment is done to remove the tumour (growing cancer cells) in its early stage followed by chemotherapy and/ or radiation therapy to destroy or kill any remaining cancerous growth. 

What can you do to Prevent Oral or Mouth Cancer?

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent oral cancer, you can minimize the risk of oral cancer if you:

1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Proper dental hygiene is one of the most important steps in mouth cancer prevention. When you don’t floss or brush your teeth regularly as you should, cavities or gum disease can occur along with other underlying dental problems. An unhealthy mouth can affect your immune system, hindering your body’ ability to fight against mouth cancer.

2. Maintain Healthy Diet

Eating healthier, cancer-fighting foods such as beans, tomatoes, grapes, garlic and dark green leafy veggies is associated with a lower risk of oral cancer along with many types of cancer. Consume them baked, raw, steamed or boiled. Avoid eating them fried or grilled!

3. Say No To Tobacco

Smoking or chewing tobacco is another major cause of oral cancer. If you already are a tobacco user, the habit should be stopped immediately. And, if you drink occasionally, watch the alcohol consumption and try to keep it in check.

4. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity and exercise can help to boost your immunity and reduce the cancer risk of developing oral cancer. The list of exercises that should be added to your regular routine includes jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, weight training. 

5. Schedule Routine Dental Exams

Visiting a dental professional every six months for dental cleanings and checkups is an excellent way to ensure good dental hygiene. During your dental checkups, the dental professional will examine your entire mouth (the unreachable areas) looking for any signs of mouth cancer. 

That’s a wrap

Could you be at risk for cancer of the oral cavity? Stop thinking. If you believe you have any symptoms or feel anything different in your mouth – scheduling an appointment with your dental professional could save your money, or it could save your life.