Oral Cancer

Each year, almost 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers. With a 5-year survival rate at only 64 percent, early detection and treatment are incredibly important.

During dental visits, your dentist can examine the oral cavity for signs of mouth and/or throat cancer. Regular visits will improve the chances that any changes in oral health will be caught early when cancer can be treated more easily. Be aware of the following symptoms, and see your dentist if they do not go away after two weeks:

  • a sore or irritation that doesn't go away
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
Smokers and people over 50 who drink alcohol excessively are the most at risk for developing mouth and throat cancers. Recently, the sexually transmitted disease HPV has been associated with oral cancers. If you are diagnosed with any form of oral cancer, the first thing you should do before beginning treatment is to see your dentist. You should keep your mouth moist, using the following methods:
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Suck on ice chips.
  • Use sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy.
  • Use a saliva substitute to help moisten your mouth.
You should also practice normal oral hygiene to keep your mouth clean:
  • Brush teeth, gums and tongue with an extra-soft toothbrush after every meal and at bedtime. If it hurts, soften the bristles using warm water.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use special fluoride gel prescribed by your dentist.
  • Don't use mouthwashes containing alcohol.
  • Floss your teeth gently every day. If your gums bleed or hurt, avoid those areas, continuing to floss other teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth several times a day with a solution of 1/4 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt in a quart of warm water. Follow with a plain water rinse.
  • Dentures that don't fit right may cause additional problems. Talk to your cancer doctor or dentist about your dentures.



Courtesy of Mouth Healthy



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