When it comes to their oral health, many of the patients who come to Bronitsky Family Dentistry for dental care in Aloha remain focused on avoiding cavities, preventing gum disease, and avoiding bad breath. However, a significant health risk often goes unnoticed unless diagnosed by Dr. Bronitsky – oral cancer.
While cancers of the oral cavity (a category that includes the tongue, cheek, and lips) and the oropharynx (mouth and throat) don’t get the national attention as some other types of the disease, oral cancers are no less life threatening if not diagnosed early on. Unfortunately, many patients simply don’t know the early signs of oral cancer. If they don’t regularly receive dental care in Aloha, they could allow a cancer to develop into a significant health risk.
Let’s take a look at what patients need to know about oral cancer and how you can lower your risk.
A Few Facts About Oral Cancer
Understanding your risk of oral cancer requires knowing if you fit into a high risk category or have some of the known risk factors for the disease. Here are a few important facts to keep in mind about different oral and throat cancers.
- Men are generally twice as likely to receive an oral or throat cancer diagnosis when compared to women.
- The rates of oral and throat cancer have increased in patients under the age of 50, including those in their 20s and 30s.
- Patients who recover from their battle with an oral cancer will have a higher risk for developing another form of cancer.
- While different types of oral and throat cancers may develop in the same relatively small region of the body, they each have a unique treatment method.
- Biopsy remains the only way to verify if a patient has an oral or throat cancer.
Don’t Lose Hope
Patients who receive even a late stage oral cancer diagnosis still have an excellent chance of recovering from the disease. Thanks to advances in treatment options, many of these types of cancer have much higher survival rates when compared to even just 10 years ago. In fact, some types of throat cancers have up to an 80 or 90 percent survival rate.
With the right treatment and care, patients have a high likelihood of recovery. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the habits that increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Here are a few habits you should try to avoid.
Habits that Increase Your Risk
Lowering your risk for oral and throat cancer requires avoiding a few harmful habits that include:
- Smoking. In addition to increasing your risk for both cavities and gum disease, smoking or using chewing tobacco also significantly raises your risk for oral and throat cancer.
- Excessive alcohol consumption. In moderation, drinking alcohol presents little risk to your oral health. However, individuals that consume more than 3.5 drinks a day increase their risk for oral and throat cancer by two or three times.
- Avoiding dental care. Regular oral cancer screenings by Dr. Brontisky play an important role in helping to limit the spread and severity of the disease. Skipping an appointment that could have revealed the presence of cancer will only allow the disease more time to advance.
- Protect your lips from the sun. Lip cancer directly relates to an individual’s exposure to UV light. If you spend a lot of time outdoors during the day, make sure to wear a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Knowing the signs and symptoms of oral cancer will allow a patient to seek treatment before the disease can advance. If you are experiencing any of the following, you need to receive immediate dental care in Aloha.
- Oral sores that don’t heal
- Bleeding from the teeth or gums that lasts for more than a week
- Lumps in the neck or mouth
- Pain in the mouth that lasts for over two weeks
- Changes to the voice, especially among smokers
- Numbness in the chin and lower lips
- Persistent earache in both ears
Don’t let oral cancer go unnoticed before it’s too late. By receiving regular dental care in Aloha with our team at Bronitsky Dental, you can continue to smile with confidence knowing that oral cancer won’t impact the life of you or your family.