Oral cancer is a complex and rapidly progressing disease. Žvėrynas Dental Clinic's doctor-oral surgeon dr. Alina Čebatariūnienė shares insights into symptoms, causes, and how to protect oneself against this disease.
The first symptoms of cancer may be:
The most common causes of oral cancer:
- White or red spot on mouth or lips;
- Non-healing wound of lips or mouth;
- Episodic bleeding from the oral mucosa;
- Loose teeth;
- Difficulty or pain in swallowing or moving the tongue;
- Derivation (bump) in the neck;
- Numb lips and chin;
- Voice changes;
- A swollen jaw or improper dentures;
- Prolonged tooth or jaw pain (this symptom usually occurs as the disease progresses).
- Harmful habits - smoking, alcohol consumption
- If a person not only consumes alcohol but also smokes, the risk of developing oral cancer increases by 15 times.
- Smoking includes not only cigarettes but also cigarillos, pipes, chewing tobacco (snus), and hookah.
- Most patients consider hookah smoking to be an "innocent deal". Although hookah is smoked less frequently, it is more intense, so tobacco smoke impacts the body for a long time. When smoke penetrates water, toxic substances in tobacco smoke are not filtered out.
- Sharp edges of teeth and fillings, prostheses that damage the mucous membranes
- This can be an irregularly erupted mental tooth or a constantly irritating prosthesis.
- Foreign objects in the mouth - earrings on the tongue, lips
- These foreign objects accumulate plaque and constantly irritate the mucous membranes.
- Ultraviolet rays
- The development of lip cancer can be caused by ultraviolet rays. It is often common for people who work outdoors in bright sunlight.
Bad oral hygiene habits and oral cancer
There is a lot of research done looking for links between bad oral hygiene and oral cancer. Poorly cared for teeth increase the risk of caries and thus periodontal disease, resulting in tooth loss.
If several teeth are lost and they are not restored with fixed or removable dentures, the risk of mucosal irritation is higher. The former benign derivative may become malignant over time due to constant irritation. Due to the constant plaque, the protective barrier mechanisms of the mucosa are weakened.
Thus, if the Patient carefully takes care of his mouth, he will always notice any change earlier.
Effects of oral cancer on the mouth
Almost always, oral cancer begins to form in the flat cells on the surface of the mouth, mucous membranes, and lips. These pathologically altered cells proliferate, losing normal tissue function. Oral cancer cells not only cause tissue damage or collapse in the mouth, but they also enter the blood vessels, lymph vessels, and can spread to other organs (called metastases).
Doctor's tips for preventing cancer:
- Avoid smoking, tobacco products;
- Avoid alcohol consumption;
- Take care of good personal oral hygiene (interdental cleaning, tongue cleaning, proper hygiene of removable dentures). Remember from times to times to examine the oral mucosa in front of a mirror;
- There should be no foreign objects (piercings) in the oral cavity;
- When you are outside in the sun for a long time, it is necessary to apply sunscreen on your face and lips.
Often a person can spot a red or white blemish or feel a derivative while brushing their teeth and examining their mouth. Any pain or discomfort should not be ignored. If you notice a derivative in the neck, face, or underjaw that does not go away in a couple of weeks, you should see a doctor. These derivatives are usually benign but become malignant over time. The earlier you see a doctor, the more likely you are to recover.
According to the doctor dr. Alina Čebatariūnienė, often Patients use in self-medication. When they notice a canker or a wound, they first put on various compresses, start trying to treat themselves with ointments randomly purchased at the pharmacy. In such cases, the doctor would advise seeing a family doctor or dentist immediately.
The risk of developing oral cancer increases in people over the age of 40 (men are twice as likely as women to get it), so we recommend a preventive visit to a dentist or oral hygienist at least twice a year.