Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

April is oral cancer awareness month! Oral cancer is exactly what it sounds like: cancer that occurs anywhere in the mouth. It can occur on the tongue, the lips, the gums, inside the cheek, or in the roof or floor of the mouth. Every year more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer. The reason why oral cancer has a higher death rate is because it often goes undetected until it become too advanced and has spread to another part of the body.

What are the causes of the oral cancer? There is no clear answer, but some potential causes have been identified such as:

Chewing Tobacco or Betel Quid: Excessive tobacco use, whether in the form of cigarette
smoking or chewing tobacco such as betel quid can be substantial contributor and cause of oral
cancer. This is one of the reasons why it is best to avoid tobacco.

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at risk because alcohol converts into a
chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages the body’s DNA and blocks cells from repairing
the damage. When paired with tobacco, the dehydrating effects of alcohol make it even easier
for tobacco to infiltrate mouth tissue.

Sun Exposure: Repeated sun exposure increases your risk of contracting cancer on your lips,
especially the lower lip.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): HPV is a type of virus that infects the skin and the cells lining
body cavities. For most people, HPV causes no harm and gets better on its own. You don’t catch
cancers like an infection. But the virus can cause changes in the mouth and throat making them
more likely to become cancerous in the future. HPV spreads through close skin to skin contact,
usually during sexual activity.

Diet: Not getting all the nutrients you need, from vegetables or fruits for instance, can weaken
your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the disease.

Age: Most patients who develop oral cancer are above the age of 40.

If you are concerned that you may be at the risk of oral cancer, give us a call to schedule your oral cancer
screening. And if you have been putting off a visit to Spring Lake Dental Group, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to the dentist can be the first line of defense against oral cancer!