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Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers today and has one of the lowest survival rates, with thousands of new cases being reported each year. Fewer than half of all people diagnosed with oral cancer are ever cured. Moreover, people with many forms of cancer can develop complications—some of them chronic and painful—from their cancer treatment. These include dry mouth and overly sensitive teeth, as well as accelerated tooth decay. If oral cancer is not treated in time, it could spread to other facial and neck tissues, leading to disfigurement and pain. Older adults over the age of 40 (especially men) are most susceptible to developing oral cancer, but people of all ages are at risk. Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the tongue appears to be the most common location. Other oral structures could include the lips, gums and other soft palate tissues in the mouth.
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making even self-diagnosis difficult. Here are some additional warning signs:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won’t heal.
- Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.
If a tumor is found, surgery will generally be required to remove it. Some facial disfigurement could also result.
Prevention is the key to staving off oral cancer. One of the biggest culprits is tobacco and alcohol use. Certain kinds of foods and even overexposure to the sun have also been linked to oral cancer. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against oral cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups, are highly recommended.
Removing decay and repairing damaged teeth is key to both good oral health and overall well-being. While most adults would agree with the importance of protecting their adult teeth, many overlook the developmental significance of the primary dentition, or “baby teeth.” It is crucial to maintain the health of the baby teeth (even though they will eventually be replaced) because they are necessary for eating, speaking, proper growth and development of the jaws and placement of the permanent teeth. Most pediatric dental patients have both adult and baby teeth, or mixed dentition, and a pediatric dental specialist understands how proper care of both can lead to a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Healthy mouth, healthy body…the link between them may surprise you!
The condition of your mouth is closely tied to your overall health. Research shows how poor oral health is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.
Taking care of your teeth isn’t just about having a nice smile and pleasant breath. The recent research has found a number of links between certain diseases. While in many cases, the nature of this link still isn’t clear — researchers have yet to conclude whether the connections are causal or correlative. What is certain is that the condition of your mouth is closely tied to your overall physical health.
Doctors have known for years that type 2 diabetics have an increased incidence of periodontitis, (severe form of gum disease). In 2008 the connection was further highlighted: Researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health followed 9,296 non-diabetic participants, measuring their level of periodontic bacteria over the course of 20 years. What they found was astonishing! Those people who had higher levels of periodontal disease had a twofold risk of developing diabetes over that time period, compared to people with low levels or no gum disease. More research is needed before doctors can conclude that gum disease actually leads to diabetes, but, there are already a few theories about why this might be the case: Scientists at the Mayo Clinic propose that when infections in your mouth get bad enough, they can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout your body, which in turn wreaks havoc on your sugar-processing abilities. There are all kinds of “inflammatory molecules,” and it’s believed that some attach to insulin receptors and prevent the body’s cells from using the insulin to get glucose into the cell. It’s the perfect set-up for diabetes. At Hughes Dental Group, we strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth, gums and general oral health. We are conveniently-located to Sun City – so if you are new to our area and need a new dentist or one with a more modern practice give us a call. If you hail from Indiana, where I practiced for over 30 years… stop in a say “Hi” – I would love to meet you!
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