Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the lips, tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, and the roof and floor of the mouth. It is a serious health concern, as it can spread to other parts of the body and become difficult to treat if not detected early.
There are several risk factors associated with mouth cancer. Some of the most common include:
- Tobacco use: This is the single most significant risk factor for oral cancer. Using tobacco in any form, including smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, and chewing tobacco, can increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
- Alcohol consumption: Drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly increases the risk of oral cancer. The risk is even higher for people who use tobacco and drink alcohol at the same time.
- Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting oral hygiene can increase the risk of developing mouth cancer, as it allows bacteria and viruses to grow in the mouth and weaken the immune system.
- Age: The risk of mouth cancer increases with age, with most cases being diagnosed in people over the age of 40.
- UV light exposure: People who spend a lot of time in the sun without proper protection, such as using lip balm with SPF, are at higher risk of developing lip cancer.
- Betel nut chewing: Chewing betel nuts, which are commonly used in some countries as a stimulant and to freshen breath, is a risk factor for oral cancer, as the nuts contain chemicals that can cause damage to the cells in the mouth.
- HPV infection: Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause mouth cancer, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.
- Poor diet: A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and nutrients that help prevent cancer, can increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
- Family history: People with a family history of oral cancer are at higher risk of developing the disease themselves.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of oral cancer, including persistent soreness, pain, or numbness in the mouth, white or red patches in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and a persistent change in voice or speech. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or dentist as soon as possible.
Regular visits to the dentist and practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent mouth cancer, and early detection is key to successful treatment. J&B Dental Group is a mixed NHS and private dental practice with clinics in Darlington, Thornaby and Easington. Please get in touch to arrange an appointment.