What Is Oral Cancer?

Dentist inspecting patient for oral cancer

Oral cancer, a condition also known as mouth cancer, is one of the conditions that Dr. Laudie looks for during your regular dental visits. While any cancer is a serious concern, when caught early, you have a far better chance of treating it successfully and recovering. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, tongue, gums, the inner lining of the cheeks, and the floor or roof of the mouth. Below we’ll discuss what oral cancer is and what you can do to prevent it.

What Causes Mouth Cancer?

Cancer is the result of cells in the body undergoing a form of mutation in their DNA. DNA is the portion of the cell that tells the cell what to do and what to be. When a mutation occurs in these instructions, it can result in a mass that grows and divides, pushing out healthy cells and putting your health at risk. An accumulation of these cells is known as a tumor, which can spread inside the mouth or even to other areas of the body. The majority of oral cancers start in the cells lining your mouth and lips known as squamous cells. While the cause of these mutations is poorly understood, there are lifestyle choices and medical conditions that can increase your risk, including:

  • Any form of tobacco use
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Exposure of the lips to the sun
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – A sexually transmitted virus
  • Compromised Immune Systems

What Can I Do To Prevent Mouth Cancer?

While there is no 100% effective way to prevent mouth cancer, you can limit your risk of contracting it. These steps will help avoid situations and conditions that have been shown to cause it and will help lower your chances of oral cancer forming.

  • Quit Using Tobacco Products, Or Never Start – Tobacco use has unquestionably been shown to cause multiple types of cancer. Chewing, smoking, or inhaling tobacco all put your cells at risk by exposing them to cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Limit Your Use Of Alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to cause irritation in your mouth cells. This irritation can spur mutation and increase your risk of developing mouth cancer. It is best to limit your alcohol to two drinks a day at most.
  • Keep Your Lips Out Of The Sun – Wear large brimmed hats that keep the sun off your lips, put on sunscreen bearing lip gloss, and otherwise avoid exposing your lips to the sun to reduce your risk of lip cancer.
  • Schedule Regular Dental Visits – Dr. Laudie includes oral cancer screenings as a standard part of your regular dental visits. When you make appointments at least twice a year, you give yourself the best chance of catching oral cancer early if it develops.

If you desire to learn more about preventing oral cancer as part of your regular dental health care, call Jacob Laudie Dental today. Dr. Jacob Laudie works closely with the community in Lees Summit, MO, to provide excellent dental care services, including standard oral screenings for cancer. Call our number to make an appointment and give yourself the best chance at lifelong oral health.