Understanding Oral Cancer

oral cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States with about 35,000 cases diagnosed every year. Of those, about 8,000 will lose their lives to this life-threatening condition. At our Austin dental office, we want all of our patients to understand the deadly disease so they can work to avoid it or recognize when there is a problem.

Risk Factors

Knowing the risk factors and who is more likely to develop oral cancer is the first step in understanding whether you may be at increased risk.

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. In fact, their risk is about double that of their female counterparts.
  • Age: On average, most people are diagnosed at 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are over 55.
  • Sun Exposure: Instances of oral cancer is increased in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen.
  • Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.
  • Alcohol: Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. In fact, nearly 70% of all those diagnosed use alcohol often. And if you’re a drinker and smoker, your risk may be as high as 100%.

Even if you don’t fall into these risk categories, you can still develop oral cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize a potential problem and getting it checked out quickly can increase survival rate. Early detection is key to beating the cancer, so if you notice any of the following symptoms, see your dentist in Austin as soon as possible.

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Voice changes

Prevention

While we can’t change our gender or age, we can take steps to limit our exposure to the lifestyle risk factors. Besides that, maintaining regular checkups with your dentist is key to catching any problems early. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, give our Austin dental office a call to schedule an appointment today. It could save your life.

Accepting patients from Austin, Westlake,Cedar Park.

You’ve Got Questions About Canker Sores? We’ve Got Answers!

canker sore

Canker sores are a common problem that tend to come with a lot of questions. What causes them? Are they contagious? Can you cure them? Can you avoid them? Is a canker sore and cold sore the same thing? At our Austin dental office, we understand canker sores can be confusing, and uncomfortable, so we’d like to give you some answers to commonly asked questions.

What Exactly is a Canker Sore?

A canker sore is ulcer-like lesion that appears on the soft tissues of the mouth. And if you get one, you’ll know. Canker sores look like small, red, painful, raised circles. They may even have a white or gray middle. Canker sores affect the inside of the mouth and aren’t contagious. If you notice something similar on the lip or outside of the mouth, you probably have a cold sore, which is contagious, so get it looked at as soon as possible.

What Causes Canker Sores?

We wish we had a better answer to this, but we’ll fill you in on what we know. Canker sores have no absolute cause. However, there are some things that have a correlation with developing a canker sore.

  • High Stress or Lack of Rest
  • Acidic or Spicy Foods
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

Sometimes you may be able to determine what causes a canker sore to pop up. Other times, they appear seemingly out of nowhere. If you can identify what caused a canker sore to pop up, try your best to avoid it.

How do You Treat a Canker Sore?

Again, we wish we had better news for you. Unfortunately there is no cure for canker sores. You basically need to let them run their course, which is typically about a week or two. While you can’t make one go away, you can ease the discomfort and pain with an over-the-counter product designed to numb the area.

What if a Canker Sore Doesn’t Go Away?

Normally a canker sore will heal itself, but sometimes it needs help. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your dentist in Austin.

  • It’s still there after three weeks
  • It spread or multiplied
  • It comes paired with a fever or severe pain

At our Austin dental office, we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions about canker sores or any other oral health concern you have. Give us a call today!

Now accepting patients from Austin, Westlake, and Cedar Park.

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