Did you know that oral cancer can be deadlier than other cancers you might be more familiar with, because it is often not detected until it’s too late? In fact, each year, between 40,000 to 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer. And, at the five-year mark, survival rates for oral cancer are only around 50%, just because the late discovery of this condition. But, regular screenings from your dentist in Harker Heights can help detect this disease before it becomes deadly. And, since April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, now is the perfect time to see Market Heights Family Dental, your premier dentist in Harker Heights, to get the preventive care you need to protect your smile – and your life.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Dr. Melinda Duncan and Dr. Brenna Sura explain that men are more commonly diagnosed with cancers of the mouth and throat than women. Aside from this gender connection, 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.
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. As your superior family dentist in Harker Heights, we want to make sure you’re there for your loved ones for as long as possible with screenings and treatment for this condition.
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. Since early detection is key in helping patients survive oral cancer, get screened at least once a year. The screening only takes a short amount of time, but can save your life.
- Stop Smoking – Quit using tobacco products in all its forms now. If you need help quitting, talk with our team or your doctor for solutions that will prevent cancers of the mouth, throat, lungs, and other serious medical conditions.
- Consider Vaccinations – If you’re under the age of 26, talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated for HPV. This preventive measure can help both men and women avoid the damaging effects of HPV16.
- Eat Healthy – Keeping your immune system strong with a healthy diet is important, so avoid sugar, enjoy leafy greens and dairy products that are loaded with calcium and other vital nutrients, and limit your alcohol intake.
So participate in Oral Cancer Awareness month this April by scheduling your appointment with Market Heights Family Dental to get screened and protect your health!