Checking Mouth - Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer - Do you know the signs?

Cancer is a pretty scary word. No-one likes to hear it and we do our best keep it as far away from us and our loved ones as possible. But there’s no point burying our head in the sand. The Irish Cancer Society estimates that by 2020, which is only next year now, 1 in 2 people in Ireland will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point during their lives. That’s pretty shocking. However, it doesn’t need to be all bad. The vast majority of cancers have good outcomes when they are identified and treated early.

At SCR Clinic, our team of dentists and nurses are concerned with the mouth and oral care and so today, we want to help you know the signs that may give rise to concern about oral cancer. When you know what to look for and inspect your mouth regularly, if anything does go wrong, you will be in the best position to get it checked. If necessary, you can then get it treated before the condition worsens.

What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer found in the area of the mouth. It is a specific part of a wider group of cancer known as Mouth, Head & Neck Cancer (MHNC), this affects tissues in any part of the mouth, head or neck. In Ireland, there is approximately 700 diagnoses of MHNC each year.

Who is at risk?
Generally, oral cancer affects members of the older population, for example, people over 50 years of age. However, recent years have seen an increase in the number of diagnoses in younger people.

There are particular lifestyle habits that can put people at increased risk of oral cancer. These include smoking and drinking, sun exposure and poor dietary choices. Some people may think that if they no longer have their own teeth they needn’t worry about this disease. However, oral cancer can affect the whole mouth including the gums, lips, insides of the cheeks and down into the throat area. So not having teeth does not mean that you can’t develop oral cancer.

Warning Signs
How do you know if something might be amiss? If you have any symptoms which are persistent and out of the ordinary. For example, many of us get mouth ulcers from time to time, this can simply be a sign that you’re a little run down and need to take better care of yourself. However, if that mouth ulcer does not shift within the normal time frame you would expect, then you should see a dentist or doctor without delay.

A persistent sore throat, which goes on for about 3 weeks should also be checked out. Other indications can include lumps and sores which don’t heal up or go away within the three-week time frame.

Keep in mind that just because you present with these symptoms, does not necessarily mean you have oral cancer, but they can be a warning sign and should be checked out to make sure that if they require treatment it can be delivered without any delay.

Good Practice
As part of your usual daily dental healthcare, you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once. Some people also use mouthwash. While you are performing your dental healthcare routine, take an extra minute to look inside your mouth, is there anything unusual you can see?

Normally, you will feel an ulcer or something before you see it, so if you do feel something uncomfortable in your mouth, don’t ignore it, take a look and take steps to help clear it up. If you have an ulcer or sore, rinsing your mouth with some warm salty water will help it clear up. However, again, if this doesn’t help it to clear within a few weeks, don’t hesitate to get it checked by your doctor or dentist.

Remember, that if you have a medical card, you are able to attend the dentist once a year for free, while if you are working, your PRSI should cover you for one check-up per year. This is the minimum amount you should visit your dentist to keep your mouth in good health and to allow a medical professional check for anything that might be cause for concern.

You can make an appointment with us at SCR Clinic online, or by contacting our reception on 01- 454 9688. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and look after your dental health, you should have nothing to worry about, but regular check-ups can put your mind at ease so that you can continue to enjoy life to the full.


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