April has been designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside to educate and inform the public about the dangers of oral cancer and what they can do to ensure oral health throughout their lives. Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancer during your periodic examinations. At Trailhead Dental, we are committed to providing individualized care to help you enjoy good oral and dental health at every stage of life.
Know the Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that can occur anywhere in the mouth. It can affect the gums, tongue, lips, roof or floor of the mouth or the lining of the cheeks. Symptoms you should look out for include:
- Sores that don’t heal
- Sores that bleed
- Loose teeth
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Growths in the mouth cavity
- Tongue pain
- Pain when chewing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Poorly-fitting dentures
Treatments for Oral Cancer
When oral cancer is diagnosed, it is categorized by stage, location, and type of cancer. These determinations will help your physician to provide the appropriate treatment. Surgery is generally done to remove the abnormal tissue and sometimes the lymph nodes into which it may have spread. Radiation therapy may be ordered, which involves directing radiation beams at tumors to kill the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is often administered via oral medication or IV to eliminate any remaining cancerous cells. Targeted therapy medications may also be given to interfere with the abnormal growth of the cells. Careful hygiene and nutritional counseling is another important part of the treatment of oral cancer. Reconstruction of teeth and oral tissue is sometimes necessary after cancer has been eliminated. Oral cancer patients have a high rate of survival after treatment. Early detection and treatment increase the odds of survival, which is why regular examination of oral tissues by a dental professional is so important.
Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
Certain factors are associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. Having a family history of oral cancer increases your risk. You can lower your risk by implementing a few strategies for good oral health:
- Avoid smoking, chewing tobacco, snuff and all other forms of tobacco.
- Use alcohol only in moderation
- Protect yourself against human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Use lip protection against harmful UV rays of the sun
- Maintain a healthy immune system
Make Trailhead Dental Your Choice for Dental Health
Dr. Bryan Limmer and the trained staff at Trailhead Dental provide a range of services for their patients in Wheat Ridge, CO, and surrounding communities. We can provide help for complex dental problems, with a variety of treatment methods. Call Trailhead Dental today at 720-242-6803 for an appointment to have a comprehensive exam that can help ensure your oral health.