It has become extremely important to have regular health examinations to prevent or discover any early signs of cancer or other diseases, since modern medicine often provides many treatment options for cancers and other diseases when they are caught early. This stands true for dental health as well. Dentists find approximately 84 percent of oral cancer cases when doing screenings on patients and individuals who have either found an abnormal growth or those who might be at heightened risk due to factors such as age, family history, alcohol use, or tobacco use. It is important to ask your dentist if he or she feels you need an oral screening.
Oral Cancer Screening
Here is what you can expect when it comes to an oral cancer screening.
- There is no special preparation you need prior to an oral cancer screening, and screenings are typically performed during a regular dental visit.
- If you are wearing any sort of dentures or removable implants, your dental professional should remove those before the examination begins.
- Some dentists will ask you to rinse your mouth with a special blue dye prior to the examination. The dye will absorb into abnormal cells, making them more visible for the dentist.
- Your dentist should examine and inspect the inside and outside of your gums and cheeks throughout your entire mouth. Your lips and the floor and roof of your mouth will also be inspected for any patches or sores.
- Your lymph nodes, jaw area and around your ears will be checked.
- Expect your dentist to ask you to stick out your tongue and say “ahhh” in order to examine the back of your throat and mouth.
If your dental care provider does find anything that looks abnormal, he or she may recommend a couple of options. One is a “wait and see” approach with a simple follow-up visit to see if the irregular area is still there after a few weeks. If your dentist believes you might be at risk or that the abnormality is severe, he or she will often recommend a biopsy to remove a sample of cells to be tested for cancer.
Oral cancer screenings are very simple and practically stress-free for you; however they are extremely important for your overall health.
Your teeth are a part of physical health and overall appearance that many people take for granted. In fact, a lot of people might not notice oral health issues until they become major problems that take significant time and money to correct. Remember these oral hygiene basics to keep your teeth and gums in good shape between dental visits.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, or more if recommended by your dentist, using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste with fluoride in it. If you are prone to plaque build-up, consider an electric toothbrush, which is often better at removing plaque than manual brushing.
Floss daily to clean between teeth and under the gum line. Break off about 18 inches of floss each time, and wrap the excess around your fingers to help you hold it steady. Work the floss in between your teeth one at a time, then curve the floss to help you clean against the sides of each tooth that are touching.
Other Oral Hygiene Tips
Consider using a fluoride mouthwash every day to remove bacteria in the mouth. There are also a number of specialty products available such as the oral irrigator, a device that uses a stream of concentrated water to remove food particles from between teeth. This device can be safer and less damaging to gums than using floss for the same purpose if your dentist has recommended that floss may be harmful to your gums.
Oral Hygiene Red Flags
Keep an eye out for red flags that indicate you should see a dentist as soon as possible:
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums are a major sign of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated
- Loss of or damage to a tooth should also be examined by a dentist, even if the tooth is only chipped or cracked and doesn’t hurt that badly
- Other changes you notice like unusual sensitivity to temperature should be reported to an oral health provider
The key to healthy teeth and gums is to establish a daily routine. These tips work best when you do them regularly.
When you were a child, the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis was probably something you heard often. Almost always the focus was to keep your teeth clean to avoid cavities and the build-up of plaque, but have you ever thought that the effects of bad oral hygiene could lead to something as serious as oral cancer?
Oral Hygiene and Cancer
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a 2007 study linking neglected mouth hygiene, to head, neck and oral cancers. Researchers have found that over 3,400 U.S. adults who ranked their own personal oral hygiene as “poor” to “fair” have a higher chance of acquiring an oral infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that approximately 12,000 cases of oral cancer occur in the U.S. each year. The presence of HPV is thought to cause close to 75 percent of these cases.
Reduce Your Risks of Oral Cancer
Here are some ways to improve your oral hygiene to prevent or reduce the risk of oral cancer.
- Make it a habit to brush and floss your teeth after every meal. Participating in both brushing and flossing will remove unwanted plaque and leftover food from your teeth and gums, resulting in less decay.
- Avoid or limit the use of tobacco and alcohol products to improve your oral hygiene. Using tobacco products means you have a 27 times greater chance of being diagnosed with oral cancer over an individual who never uses tobacco.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year, and more often if you are at high risk or the dentist recommends more frequent visits. Allowing your dentist frequent access to your mouth gives him or her many opportunities to spot any signs of oral cancer early on. Just like with any cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat.
Protect Yourself from Oral Cancer
Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, broken teeth, and gum disease, which can contribute to oral cancer. Following these tips can help protect you against oral cancer and all of the stress and worry that comes with this disease.
What you eat can have a major effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Most people already know about things to avoid, such as coffee and tea that can stain your teeth, or sugar foods that feed bacteria in the mouth. But what about foods that actually help your mouth remain healthy and keep teeth enamel strong? This is what you need to know about how food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Drinking plenty of water is a great way to naturally clean teeth because water can help wash away build up or particles in the mouth. Staying hydrated also ensures that your mouth is producing the saliva it needs to clean teeth and properly break down food for digestion.
Fruits and Vegetables
You may have heard people refer to apples as “nature’s toothbrushes” before, and in a way this is true of many crunchy fruits and vegetables. These foods have a high water content which helps wash away the sugars that are also contained in the food. The firm texture of many fruits and veggies also helps naturally clean tooth enamel.
Dairy foods like milk and cheese contain calcium which helps build strong tooth enamel. The minerals in dairy foods also help the body create new layers of enamel on teeth.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
Sugar is one of the worst things for oral health because an accumulation of sugar in the mouth leads to a buildup of bacteria. If you have a sweet tooth that you just can’t seem to get rid of, however, there may be hope in the form of sugar substitutes. Substitute sugars like saccharin, advantame and aspartame are thought to be safe for oral health because they generally do not produce the same acids that cause decay as regular, naturally-occurring sugars do.
Eating right most of the time doesn’t just help keep your mouth healthy, it also helps promote good health overall.
There are few things that are more important to your health than checking for signs of cancer. With any type of cancer, early detection is crucial. With oral cancer, detecting the signs and symptoms early can be life-saving. There are a few key symptoms to look for when checking for oral cancer.
White or Red Lesions
There are two types of lesions that your need to be on the lookout for. White lesions, also called leukoplakia, and red lesions, sometimes called erythroplakia, are both clear indicators of oral cancer. Red lesions are more likely to be cancerous, but white lesions are more common. If you notice any of these lesions that do not go away within two weeks, consider getting a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous or not.
Lump or Thickening of Oral Soft Tissue
If there are any lumps in or around your mouth or if something is more swollen than it typically should be, notify your doctor. This can be one of the signs that something may be wrong. Any issue like this that lasts longer than two weeks could be a potential indicator for oral cancer.
Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing
If you have any difficulty chewing or swallowing, this could be an indicator for oral cancer. This is one of the many signs that something could be wrong. Other symptoms can include sore throat, ear pain, any difficulty moving your tongue or jaw and numbness. You should be on the lookout for these symptoms regularly, although you will probably notice them right away. If they persist longer than two weeks, make an appointment to address the issue with your doctor.
Early detection of any cancer is paramount to your health. Regularly check for these and any other common or possible signs and symptoms of oral cancer. It’s also important to take steps toward reducing your risk for developing oral cancer. Reducing sun exposure, quitting smoking and eating enough fruits and vegetables are all possible ways to lessen your cancer risk.