In the UK, approximately 6,800 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year. Just like any other cancer, it is draining on your mind, body and soul and is best to be treated as early as possible.
Mouth Cancer Action Month runs throughout November to raise awareness of the disease that affects so many and encourage early diagnosis. The plan to raise awareness is through better education of the warning signs and symptoms of mouth cancer and encouraging more conversations between patients and dental professionals.
Whether you are having orthodontic treatment currently, or just want to keep your oral health in better shape, here are some of the risk factors for mouth cancer that you need to be aware of:
Your risk of contracting mouth cancer as a result of smoking tobacco is ten times higher than that of a non-smoker. An estimated 60% of mouth cancers have been linked to smoking, whether it be from cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
As well as smoking, chewing and smokeless tobacco is also dangerous for your health. This includes any form of tobacco in your mouth or nose that is not burned.
It has also been reported that breathing in second-hand smoke can increase your risk of contracting mouth cancer, so you need to be aware of the environment you live and work in and the smokers around you.
An unhealthy diet and lack of essential minerals and vitamins can contribute to your risk of mouth cancer. A well-balanced diet, filled with plenty of fruit, vegetables, omega 3 and high fibre foods is recommended to help lower your risk. Omega 3 can be found in foods such as fish and eggs and foods high in fibre include seeds, nuts, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
Excess alcohol intake is also a risk factor and is linked to a third of all mouth cancers. Combine this with smoking and your risk of mouth cancer can rise by up to 30 times.
According to UK guidelines, no more than 14 units of alcohol should be consumed per week by either men or women.
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a collection of viruses known to affect your skin and the moist membranes that line your body and has previously been linked to mouth cancer. Researchers have even suggested that HPV could overtake smoking and alcohol as one of the biggest risk factors for mouth cancer.
If you have previously had mouth cancer, then you are at a higher risk of contracting it again. You are also more likely to get mouth cancer if you have previously had any of the following:
- Squamous cell skin cancer
- Oesophagus cancer
- Penile cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Anal cancer
What are the signs of mouth cancer?
If you take your oral health seriously, which we certainly advise that you do, then you will notice any small changes in the appearance or feel of the inside of your mouth.
Some of the symptoms of mouth cancer that you should be aware of include:
- Ulcers that will not heal
- Red or white patches
- Pain or discomfort
When having orthodontic treatment, we appreciate that sometimes your mouth can become temporarily sore or red and this is nothing to worry about. However, if you have any concerns we advise you to call us or ask at your next appointment. Please call us on 020 8265 9797 or click here to send us a message.