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How Poor Oral Hygiene Can Cause Oral Cancer

Aug 22

You haven't seen your dentist in a long time for a check-up. Typically, you take good care of your teeth. But, with your children's busy schedules in school and sports, as well as your demanding job, you've slacked off on your own oral hygiene.


You're concerned that you've increased your own health risks by not taking care of your teeth, given the recent news about health issues related to oral hygiene. Yes, according to research, you may be endangering your health. Indeed, some studies have suggested that poor oral hygiene habits can lead to severe diseases such as oral cancer.


What exactly is oral cancer?

Cells in the body have the ability to grow, multiply, and die. A cancer cell is a cell that does not function normally; it becomes abnormal. For example, oral cancer occurs when specific cells in the mouth develop abnormally and begin to grow and spread. These abnormal cells attack healthy cells, causing damage to the tissues around them.


The mouth is scientifically referred to as the oral cavity. The oral cavity includes the inside and outside of your lips, the inside of your cheeks, your teeth, your gums, the main part of your tongue, the bottom of your mouth, and the roof of your mouth. Oral cancers in the mouth are classified into three types: those found on the lips, inside the mouth, and on the tongue.


Oral cancer can also be found in the throat, which is the area in the interior of the mouth known as the Oropharynx. This sort of oral cancer is known medically as Oropharyngeal cancer. Throat cancer is most commonly found in the back of the tongue, the back of the roof of the mouth, the tonsils, and the upper throat area.


What causes oral cancer?

There is no definitive answer to this question. However, research has shown that certain risk factors may increase your chances of developing oral cancer. These include:


Tobacco use: is the most significant risk factor for developing oral cancer. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop the disease.


Alcohol abuse: People who drink alcohol excessively are three times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not drink alcohol at all.


Excessive sun exposure: People who spend much time in the sun without adequate protection are at increased risk of developing lip cancer.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: Some studies have shown that HPV is a risk factor for developing oropharyngeal cancer.


Poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene routines can lead to plaque buildup, which can lead to gum disease. An increased risk of developing oral cancer has been linked to gum disease.

Oral Cancer Symptoms and Risk Factors

Oral cancer symptoms can mimic those of other diseases or conditions affecting the mouth, lips, and throat. The most common oral cancer symptoms are a sore that does not heal or a lump that does not go away. Other symptoms of oral cancer include:


  • Undiagnosed chronic mouth pain and tooth or jaw pain
  • Teeth that are loose.
  • Patches of white or red skin around the mouth or throat.
  • Swallowing or chewing difficulties.
  • A lump in the neck.
  • Chronic bad breath.


Oral Cancer Prevention Through Dental Visits

Oral cancer can severely damage the teeth, gums, tongue, lips, and throat. In addition, oral cancer can spread to other body parts if not treated. Professional dental practices, for example, Cascade Dental in Vancouver, Washington, are trained to detect and diagnose oral cancer.


Regular dental examinations can aid in the prevention of oral cancer. Cascade Dental's trained staff can explain how poor oral hygiene can lead to oral cancer and what steps you can take to begin a healthy oral hygiene routine during your dental visit. Call us today!