April is oral cancer awareness month – a month dedicated to spreading facts about the condition that is more popular and easy to prevent than people suspect. Oral cancer affects both men and women, usually over 50 years old, and is one of the most popular types of cancer across the globe, affecting more than tens of thousands of people each year. The cancer can spread quickly throughout the month and sometimes show no symptoms at all. Regular dental check ups in Chester Springs can help prevent this cancer from causing a loss of mouth or facial function in patients, or greatly help the treatment if detected early.
Oral cancer has two popular types. The first type of oral cancer starts on the parts of the mouth that are visible, like the roof of the mouth, the tongue or the inside of the cheeks. But the second kind of cancer is less visible, affecting the soft palate, the tonsils or even the back of the tongue. This kind of cancer is referred to as oropharyngeal oral cancer. The risk factors for the two different types of oral cancer are different. With oropharyngeal cancer, human papillomavirus, or HPV, is one of the leading factors. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that affects about 80 percent of sexually active men and women. While there is no cure for HPV, the immune system can sometimes fight off the virus and clear it on its own after a few years. HPV can also cause cervical cancer in women.
Other risk factors associated with oral cancer include tobacco use – whether it’s smoking cigarettes, cigars or even using chewing tobacco, sometimes referred to as “dip,” or oral tobacco pouches. Those who spend a lot of time in the sun without exposure protection are also at risk for oral cancer.
Oral cancer can be treated and cured if it is found early, but those who are diagnosed with a more serious case of oral cancer may need surgery to help treat it. Just like every surgical procedure has side effects, this one can disable the functions of the mouth and face for some time.
The best way to go about being smart about oral cancer is to be proactive. Visiting your general dentist for regular check ups in Chester Springs at least twice a year makes a world of difference, as it helps with prevention or early detection. In a routine check-up, a dental hygienist deeply cleans your teeth before the dentist comes in to make sure everything in the mouth, teeth and gums comes out clear. It’s imperative that we visit a dentist twice a year, or annually if twice a year isn’t possible, to ensure a healthy mouth and smile for years to come.