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Be Oral Cancer Aware

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month.  Mouth Cancer is something that Shine Dental Care takes very seriously. This short blog will tell you how you can help to prevent mouth cancer, what signs to look out for and how our dentists can help to detect mouth cancer at the earliest possible stage, improving prognosis.

What Causes Mouth Cancer?

There are different types of mouth cancer, just like there are different types of cancer that can affect other parts of the body. Similarly, there isn’t a single cause of mouth cancer. Mouth cancer can present in all areas of the mouth including tongue, cheeks, throat and lips.

The most common causes are tobacco use and alcohol consumption, particularly if the two are carried out simultaneously. As well common methods of tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars and pipes) other forms, such as chewing tobacco, betel nut, gutkha and paan are also known to be very dangerous.

Exposure to UV rays in sunlight can cause cancer on the lips, in the same way it can affect the rest if your skin.

Recent research has shown that the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus responsible for cervical cancer, can also cause cancer of the mouth.

How Can I Prevent Mouth Cancer?

You can help to protect yourself from mouth cancer by eliminating your exposure to the causes listed above. Quitting smoking is one of the best preventative measures you can take. Alcohol consumption should also be greatly reduced.

Always use a lip balm with UV protection on sunny days and avoid using sunbeds.

There is a vaccine against the HPV virus which is available in England for girls aged between 12 and 13.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do?

Keeping yourself fit and healthy helps the body to protect itself from cancer.

Check your mouth regularly for any changes. Always seek a professional opinion for any changes in your mouth. Particularly those which do not clear up within 3 weeks.

Visit the dentist regularly, even if you wear dentures!

What Are The Signs To Look Out For?

Mouth cancer can take many forms. You should look out for any changes in and around the mouth and get them checked out as soon as you spot them.

Common presentations of mouth cancer include, but are not limited to; non healing ulcers, red patches, white patches, red and white speckled patches, swellings, and brown patches.

There are many other conditions that may take these forms, so please do not panic if you spot anything like this, but do come and let a professional take a look for you.

How Can Shine Dental Care Help Me?

As part of every check-up you have with the dentists at Shine, you will undergo screening for mouth cancer. This is carried out at every recall and only takes a few minutes, you may have had it done and not even realised!

The dentist will carry out a thorough examination of all of the oral soft tissues as well as checking your lymph nodes. Anything out of the ordinary will be kept on your records, and if necessary you will be referred to the appropriate specialist.

Your dentist will ask about your tobacco and alcohol use as well completing a thorough medical history report to identify any other factors which may have an impact on your individual risk.  You will be advised on an appropriate recall period based on your risk of oral disease, however, you shouldn’t wait for your regular check-up if you spot anything that has changed in your mouth. Our dentists will be more than happy to see you and check things over.

If you would like to arrange an appointment with one of our dentists please call us on 01623 629391.

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