By spotting the signs of mouth cancer early, we have a much better chance of beating it – with early diagnosis, your chances of survival are nine out of ten.
Mouth cancer affects over 8,300 people in the UK each year. Over the past decade, the number of cases has increased by around a third. While it cannot always be prevented, there are ways to ensure you catch it early enough to increase your chances of recovery.
Here, you will discover how to spot the signs of mouth cancer, and ways you can help manage your oral health to protect yourself against the disease.
What are the signs of mouth cancer?
To catch mouth cancer quickly, you need to be aware of the symptoms. The most common signs include:
- Persistent painful mouth ulcers
- Persistent, unexplained lumps in the mouth or lymph glands
- Pain or trouble when swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Issues with your speech or changes in the voice
- Loose teeth
It is worth noting that all the symptoms above can also point to other less serious conditions. For this reason, if you develop any of these signs, you should have them checked over right away.
What causes it?
Otherwise referred to as oral cancer, mouth cancer largely develops on the surface of the tongue, the lips, roof of the mouth, or on the inside of the cheeks. Rarely, it can also develop on the tonsils, pharynx, or saliva glands.
The leading causes of mouth cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol. As tobacco and alcohol are carcinogenic, the chemicals they contain can damage the DNA, leading to cancer. Other known causes include HPV and following an unhealthy diet.
Poor oral hygiene can also lead to mouth cancer due to a build-up of bacteria. When you don’t look after the teeth and gums, harmful bacteria can build up and cause potentially serious health issues.
It isn’t always possible to prevent mouth cancer. However, there are some prevention tips you can follow.
Cutting down your consumption of alcohol and quitting smoking are the best tips you can follow. You will also want to focus on improving your teeth and gum health. There are a lot of ways to do this such as;
- brushing your teeth twice each day
- using a fluoride mouthwash
- using interdental brushes between your teeth daily, and
- going for regular dental check-ups
Making sure you eat a nutritious, balanced diet is also important. Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, are crucial for keeping the gums healthy.
Staying on top of oral hygiene is the best thing you can do to prevent mouth cancer and other potentially harmful conditions.
Sam, our dental hygienist, recommends a check-up every three to six months. She can monitor your gum and tooth health, and remove any hard and soft plaque deposits. She can also check on your home-care routine to make sure that it is effective, and she can give you plenty of advice, such as brushing correctly. If you need extra support with your dental health, book an appointment with Sam today.