It could not be said that any variety of cancer is pleasant, Newport Beach residents, but mouth cancer is a particularly nasty variety. At least there are plenty of things that you can do to avoid it, and one of the easiest is to see your dentist for a cleaning every six months.


Your dentist will know the warning signs that indicate a possible cancer diagnosis, and you have a shot at a positive outcome if you catch it early. In this article, we’ll talk about what you should be looking for if you suspect that you have mouth cancer, and we’ll also discuss some preventative measures that you can take.


Warning Signs of Oral Cancer


The general term “mouth cancer” can apply to cancer of the gums, tongue, lips, the floor or roof of the mouth, and the inner lining of the cheeks. You may hear it referred to as oral cancer or oral cavity cancer.


There are many possible signs that you might be contracting oral cancer, Newport Beach residents, but some of the most common are difficulty or pain when you swallow and mouth or ear pain. These are often accompanied by lumps or growths inside the mouth, loose teeth, lip or mouth sores that do not heal, or white or reddish patches inside the mouth.


You should already be seeing your Newport Beach dentist for cleanings every six months, but if you have these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, then you should immediately schedule a dentist appointment rather than waiting till your next cleaning. Maybe it will turn out to be oral cancer, or perhaps it won’t, but this is certainly a case where you’ll want to be safe rather than sorry.


What Causes It?


As for what causes oral cancer, you contract it when cells in the mouth or on the lips develop changes or mutations in their DNA. The DNA of a cell tells it what to do and how to behave. When you’re looking at a cancerous mutation, the DNA is telling the cells to continue dividing and growing rather than dying when a normal cell would. The abnormal cells that keep growing form tumors. If they’re not treated, then they can become enlarged and spread inside the mouth or elsewhere in the body.


Smoking and Tobacco Products


Several risk factors can lead to your developing oral cancer, as a Newport Beach dentist will surely tell you. If you guessed that tobacco use is the leading cause of mouth cancer, then you are correct. You’ve undoubtedly heard that tobacco use causes lung cancer, but mouth cancer is equally likely.


When you stop to consider it, it’s somewhat remarkable that when cigarette use first became widespread, it was advertised as being good for your health. The notion that inhaling smoke into your lungs and exhaling it back out through your mouth and nose multiple times a day could be anything but harmful is somewhat baffling, but in any case, the medical community holds no such ideas anymore.


Tobacco use includes cigarette smoking, pipe smoking, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco. Any of them can cause oral cancer, and the more you use them, the higher your chances are of contracting it. If you smoke two packs a day for twenty years, for instance, then the chances that you will contract mouth cancer, lung cancer, and a host of others goes through the roof.


Quitting can be very tough if you have been a smoker for years, but your Newport Beach dentist will surely do all that they can to support you. There are patches you can wear. There’s nicotine gum you can chew. There are also support groups that you can join that are similar to AA. It might be a combination of these things that allows you to break the cycle of tobacco use. There are also some medications that a doctor might prescribe to assist you in some cases.


What Else Causes Oral Cancer?


It’s certainly possible for a non-smoker to contract oral cancer, though. Heavy alcohol use will also do it, so alcoholics have that to worry about in addition to things like sclerosis of the liver. If you’re out in the sun too much, then the exposure can cause cancerous masses to grow on your lips. There’s a sexually transmitted disease called HPV, or the human papillomavirus, that causes it. A weakened immune system, usually due to some other illness, also increases your chances.


Preventative Measures


There are many possible causes of oral cancer, Newport Beach, but there are also many things that you can do to lessen the chances that this is ever something with which you will have to deal. One of the most obvious ones is never to start using tobacco or to stop if you are a current user.


If you’ve been smoking for years, you should never say “well, I already smoke, there’s no point in stopping now.” Every time you choose to refrain you’re prolonging your life. If you need the incentive to do so, think about your family and those who love you and would miss you if you were gone. That’s not to mention how painful and uncomfortable oral cancer is. That’s not something that you want to have to endure.


You should also cut back on the alcohol and indulge only in moderation. You should wear lipgloss if you know that it’s a sunny day out, and you should spend only a brief time in the bright sunlight. You can wear a wide-brimmed hat as well. As for avoiding HPV, you and your partner should get tested often.


Finally, see your dentist regularly. They will know cancer when they see it, and early detection is one of the best weapons that you have. Cancer is fairly prevalent, and you’re lucky if you go through your entire life without experiencing it in one of its many forms. But you should take a commonsense approach to avoiding it, and that starts with good oral habits moving forward.