(NC) — Dental hygienists say that we can all play an active role in reducing the risks of developing oral cancer. Our own actions can improve treatment outcomes through early detection and lifestyle choices.
Oral cancer is the 13th most common type of cancer in Canada. Researchers tell us that in 2013, an estimated 4,100 people in this country were diagnosed with the disease. Smoking, drinking, sun exposure to the lips, and HPV are all known risk factors – and much of this is preventable. So by modifying our lifestyle choices, we can certainly reduce the risk. As well, be sure to watch for changes to your mouth such as these:
• an alteration to the colour or texture of gums, cheeks or tongue
• persistent mouth sores that do not heal within 14 days
• chronic sore throat
• difficulty swallowing
• lumps in the neck (even those that don’t bother you)
• mouth, or ear pain
Most cancers of the mouth can be treated if caught in time, and oral cancers are easily detected by dental hygienists who are familiar with the signs and symptoms. In order to reduce your risk, embrace a healthy lifestyle and maintain regular dental hygiene appointments that include oral cancer screenings.