Preparing For Oral Cancer Month
It makes sense to start early in taking action that can help to prevent cancer.
November in the UK is Mouth Cancer Action month. It is organised by the Mouth Cancer Foundation and promotes good oral health, putting special focus on promotional material and education around the country.
Far too few people are fully aware of the dangers of this particular type of cancer and may not be taking the preventative action that they need.
Although Blue Sky Dental is fully behind this, and similar campaigns, it is also true that there is no time like the present, and there is no need for our Chelmsford patients to wait until November to start to take the necessary actions.
Oral (mouth) cancer
Although this is not one of the best known types of cancers, it can and does kill a number of people each year. Survivors may also suffer some facial disfigurement and have ongoing problems such as with speech or even with swallowing. It is certainly not an issue that should be ignored.
The good news is that, like many forms of cancer, there is much that we can do ourselves to minimise its risks. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it does greatly reduce the chances of it occurring.
Your dental check ups
Before we move on to preventative care, it is important to emphasise the need for you to have a regular dental check up. Yes, this is necessary anyway to detect and treat any early stage tooth decay, but it also enables us to examine the soft tissues of your mouth too.
Although we are not doctors, we are in a good position to monitor your mouth at regular intervals. We may not be able to tell if sore or inflamed patches, lumps in the mouth etc are cancerous, but we can encourage you to see your doctor as soon as possible to have them checked out and perhaps investigated further. If we do recommend that you see your doctor, please don’t panic. It may well be something entirely innocent, but it is important that you do so. If you delay having a problem professionally checked and it does prove to be cancer, you may need to receive more extensive treatment than if you had gone earlier.
Kick out bad habits
As far as oral cancer goes, there are two key things that many people do that can contribute to its likelihood. These are smoking and drinking alcohol too regularly, or to excess.
Smoking is harmful to our health in so many ways. It is a major contributor to cancers of various kinds, including oral, and can also lead to heart attacks and strokes. If this was a new product advertised in this way, none of us would touch it with a barge pole. Unfortunately, for some people, it is a well ingrained habit that can be very difficult to kick. It has also played a part in our culture for many years and can still be seen in films etc today.
It may be extremely hard, but if you do smoke, we strongly recommend that you seek help to stop. Doing so could not only improve the quality of your life, but the length of it too.
The odd glass of wine or a pint of beer is probably not going to do too much harm in the long term, although few would claim it as a health giving habit. Providing that you drink sensibly and take good care of your mouth with brushing, flossing and regular checks at our Chelmsford dental practice, you needn’t worry too much.
If you do drink to excess and/or drink on a daily basis, it is definitely time to look at your habits. This is not good for your liver and other conditions and will also raise the risk of oral cancer too. Your GP should be able to offer help so that you can cut down your alcohol consumption. Perhaps starting with a couple of ‘dry nights’ a week will help and you can use these nights for something else, such as going for a walk, in order to distract you from thinking about needing a drink. Just making a start is the key action to take and then build from there.
The HPV virus is also an increasing factor in the rise of oral cancer. If you are sexually active, and especially with a number of partners, you should get yourself checked out by your doctor. Vaccinations are also now available that can help protect you against this. Please ask your doctor about these.
Just a few changes to your lifestyle, combined with good oral care can mean the difference between a healthy mouth and potentially serious problems such as cancer. Following the basic advice above and getting your mouth checked at Blue Sky Dental can make all the difference. Please call us for an appointment on 01245 211070.