Blog Posts by Geelong Smile Studio

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Oral Cancer

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recently launched a campaign during dental health week to highlight the presence of Oral Cancers within the community.

Every day, at least three Australians are diagnosed with oral cancer and this number is rising.

Unfortunately, because of the delayed detection and subsequent spread to other parts of the body, survival rates of oral cancers remain low despite advancements in treatment.

Traditionally, men have been shown to be a greater risk of oral cancer than women. Furthermore, smoking and alcohol are MAJOR contributing factors.

In fact 80% of oral cancers occur in smokers. Heavy drinking (i.e greater than 4 standard drinks in a single occasion) also increases your risk.

Heavy drinking and smoking combined together greatly increases your risk of oral cancer.

It is well known that extended sun exposure particularly to your lips can also increase the incidence of basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Interestingly, there is a significant increase in the number of young individuals being diagnosed with oral cancers that are believed to be transmitted by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the virus known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer.

In between dental visits, keep an awareness of any red or white patches, ulcers or sores that do not heal, or those that change shape, size, texture or become painful.

Other signs and symptoms to look out for include numbness, pain when chewing or swallowing, changes in speech, difficulty moving your tongue and swollen lymph glands.

You can minimise your risks of oral cancer by not smoking, minimising your alcohol intake, protecting your skin, consider the HPV vaccine if necessary and eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.

But most importantly, maintain optimal oral hygiene and regular continuing care appointments with your hygienist and dentist. This will minimise your risk of oral cancer.

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