Cases Of Oral Cancer Are On The Rise
A gentle reminder from our Ipswich dental team that you should not ignore the risks.
Most of us probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the possibility of getting any type of cancer, unless perhaps, it has affected a family member or someone else who is close to us. Especially as it is not one of the more widely known ones, it is very possible that you don’t think about the risk of mouth cancer at all.
It sometimes seems to be in our human nature to take a ‘head in the sand’ approach to some health issues, thinking that they won’t happen to us. The fact though is that they can, and they do as cases of oral cancer have increased by 64% since 2007 according to the Oral Health Foundation (reference 1). There may be some presumption that these figures probably relate to the earlier part of this period and that things may be improving now, but the reality is that the figures have actually increased yearly over each of the last 10 years.
What can you do to avoid it?
At the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich, we strongly believe in overall mouth care. Whilst most patients probably think that we just look after their teeth, the fact is that we also monitor your soft tissue health in all areas of the mouth and not just those of your gums.
We have excellent facilities on site to help in the treatment and prevention of gum disease, but we also keep an eye on your tongue, cheek and throat when we carry out oral examinations during your check up appointment.
Where we detect anything that we are not sure about, you are likely to be referred to your GP so that they can examine you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist. You should not be alarmed if we refer you to your GP. This is purely precautionary and the symptoms may well be caused by other health issues.
Why we intervene
Some people may think that if they have concerns about their mouth health they will see a GP anyway. The problem is that some symptoms may not be causing any discomfort or inconvenience initially and, as they often happen gradually, you may not notice them for some time, leading to them worsening significantly before you decide to see your doctor.
This is an important point as, where cancer is detected, it is important that you receive treatment as soon as possible. The earlier cancer is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be.
How serious is it?
All types of cancers are serious. Even where a problem may be localised, it can spread in the future and may affect some of the critical organs in your body. It is no exaggeration to say that once this happens, it can often prove to be fatal. We may not hear a lot about deaths caused by mouth cancer, but it does happen, and even where it doesn’t, it can affect the sufferer in many significantly life changing ways.
Some patients will suffer from facial disfigurement caused either by tumours or the result of surgery. Others are likely to find that day to day activities such as speech, chewing and swallowing are much more difficult. The earlier you are able to start your treatment, the lesser these problems are likely to be.
What causes mouth cancer?
We can’t say this often enough; the biggest cause of oral cancer is smoking. If you currently smoke, please stop now. Seek help locally from the appropriate healthcare agents and support groups and your health will thank you for it. Also be cautious about vaping as there seem to be some significant concerns that this may not be as problem free as many initially thought.
Drinking excessively can also be a major contributing factor. Whilst the odd drink should do little harm, you should still make sure to clean your teeth well and drink water before bedtime to help keep your mouth hydrated and therefore helping to reduce the number of “bad” bacteria in the oral cavity.
The HPV virus has also been widely linked with oral cancer. You can read more about this here ( https://oralcancerfoundation.org/understanding/hpv/hpv-oral-cancer-facts/). Taking sensible precautions and having the vaccination should hopefully see this becoming less of a risk in the future.
Finally, your overall mouth health counts, so please don’t neglect your dental visits. A check up may seem like an inconvenience, but maintaining these at regular six monthly intervals at the Foxhall Dental Clinic may not just mean the difference between healthy and unhealthy teeth, but, at its extreme, between life and death.
Book your appointment at our Ipswich dental practice today by calling us on 01473 258396.
Reference 1 – https://www.dentalhealth.org/