Cancer – no matter where it shows up in the body – can be terrifying. That’s why Alamo Springs Dental, your premier dentist in Helotes, focuses in on this disease during Oral Cancer Awareness Month this April. Since prevention, early detection, and treatment are crucial to keeping your overall health up to par, oral cancer screenings from your dentist in Helotes should be a regular part of your exams. In this post, the experts at Alamo Family Dentistry explain more about this disease and what they can do about it.
How Common Is Oral Cancer?
Each year, between 40,000 to 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer. Sadly, because this condition is often caught in its later stages, it tends to be more fatal than other cancers that people are more familiar with. In fact, at the five-year mark, survival rates for oral cancer are only around 50%, just because the late discovery of this condition. This is why regular screenings from our team are so crucial in detecting this disease before it becomes deadly.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Dr. Aiyana Anderson and Dr. Michele Moreno explain that there are many risk factors in developing oral cancer, including:
- Tobacco Use – Smoking, chewing, dipping, or using tobacco in any form is the biggest contributor to oral cancer. Cigar and pipe smokers are at the greatest risk for developing this serious disease.
- Drinking Alcohol – There is a connection between oral cancer and drinking alcohol, especially if you smoke when you drink.
- HPV Exposure – Coming in contact with the strain of the virus called HPV16 greatly increases your risk for developing oral cancer.
- Genetics – As expected, there is a genetic or hereditary link when it comes to oral cancer, even though most cases are related to unhealthy lifestyle choices like those we’ve already mentioned.
- Gender – Men are diagnosed with oral cancer more often than women, so there appears to be a gender-based connection, although this could still arise from different lifestyle choices men make than women.
What Are The Symptoms Of Oral Cancer?
Many symptoms can be subtle – like a chronic sore throat or hoarseness in your voice, so review the list of oral cancer symptoms. If you’re exhibiting any of these signs, reach out to us right away.
What Can I Do To Prevent Oral Cancer?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to your smile and overall health, so follow these guidelines from our team to help stay cancer-free:
- Get Screened – Most oral cancers are diagnosed during a dental visit, so be sure to see us regularly. Early detection is key in helping patients survive oral cancer, so get screened at least once a year – the screening test only takes a short amount of time, but can save both your smile and your life.
- Stop Smoking – If you haven’t already, quit using tobacco products in all its forms now. This will not only drastically reduce your risk for cancers of the mouth and throat (as cancers of the lungs, etc), you’ll prevent tooth loss, decrease gum disease, and say goodbye to bad breath when you quit.
- Get Vaccinated – If you’re under the age of 26, speak with your doctor about getting vaccinated for HPV. This preventive measure can help both men and women avoid the damaging effects of the HPV16 strain.
- Eat Right– To keep your immune system strong with a healthy diet, avoid sugar, enjoy leafy greens and dairy products that are loaded with calcium and other vital nutrients, and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
So, if you’re wondering, ‘What dentist near me can help me prevent oral cancer?’ our team can. Participate in Oral Cancer Awareness Month this April by scheduling your appointment with Alamo Springs Dental to get screened!