There are all sorts of different things that your dentist looks for when you go to the practice every six months for your regular checkups. Something they always keep an eye out for is oral cancer. This is a type of cancer that can develop in any of the parts that make up the oral cavity. This includes the lips, tongue, gums, roof, and floor of the mouth. Continue reading to learn if you are at high risk for this type of cancer and some of the warning signs of the condition.
Certain factors put you at higher risk for developing oral cancer. Here are the most common ones:
Using Tobacco Products: If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, or use chewing tobacco, this puts you at higher risk for oral cancer. In fact, approximately 90% of people with this type of cancer use tobacco products.
Heavy Drinking: People who drink alcohol heavily are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer. This is even higher if you also use tobacco products.
Exposure to the Sun: Excessive sun exposure to the lips can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Oral cancer can develop as a result of HPV. This is usually found in the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and in the tonsils.
Being Older Than 45: It is possible for oral cancer to develop at any age, but it is more common in people over the age of 45.
When someone develops oral cancer, the following signs often become apparent:
The good news is that oral cancer can be fairly preventable with the right precautions. Here are some steps that should be taken to keep your smile healthy:
Oral cancer can be very serious, but when caught early on, it is often times treatable. By following the tips listed above and seeing your dentist on a regular basis for screenings, you may even save your life!