Category Archives: Oral Cancer

Almost Famous: Sex And Oral Cancer

In the range of ‘popular’ cancers, the one that often flies under the radar is oral cancer.

But is it really a big deal? It seems to pale in comparison to the cancers of the breast, pancreas, cervix and the like. Well, until a celebrity brings it under the spotlight.

Famous or not, however, it is a force not to be messed with. No sireee.

Here’s why:

  1. More than 40,000 Americans will get it this year, and it is predicted only about half will survive it
  2. It usually spreads silently and painlessly….there may not be a red flag signalling for your attention
  3. Survivors have a 20% higher risk of developing a secondary cancer….after the initial occurrence
  4. More people under 40 are being diagnosed with it, and it used to affect mostly those over 40
  5. Historically, the main causes have been smoking, or smoking + alcohol (risk increases 15X). But there’s a new kid on the block–and growing fast via sexual transmission–HPV-16 (Human Papilloma Virus)

All in all, it may be the ‘underdog’ of cancers, but still a force to be reckoned with. The numbers, unfortunately, are on the rise, especially in women (rising from 1 in 7 to 1 in 3).

The scary thing is that because of its stealthy nature, it is often diagnosed after it’s spread to other parts of the body. And treatment for oral cancer is not an easy road either. I’m talking radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and restorative procedures after that.

As in many health issues our nation faces today, lifestyle choices have a huge impact on the quality of our life. Modern science can do (and has done) a lot to improve it, but while we’re waiting for a magic pill to solve whatever ails us, there is the smarter alternative of taking charge of our own health.

Preventive measures for oral cancer include:

  • Early detection
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • A healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables
  • Regular exercise
  • Safe sex (especially the young ones, since their rates are rising via HPV)

Last, but not least, every dental check up you come in for does include an oral cancer screening with us. We’re in that area more often than your physician, and thus more likely to spot something early on.

Any lumps or bumps are documented and you are informed. A follow up with us or a specialist is always discussed if anything out of the ordinary is suspected.

Till the number of those affected with oral cancer approach zero, smart lifestyle choices and early detection are your best bets in making sure that oral cancer does not grab center stage in your life.

(214) 522-3110          www.raodentistry.com

Image Source: photostock

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Filed under Health, Oral Cancer, Smoking

3 Red Flags That Your Teeth Are In Trouble

Rows of Red and White ballsI don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a mysterious ache or pain pop up on some occasion, and make them stop and wonder, where the heck did that come from?

Tooth woes can do the same, and it can be confusing to decide whether to ignore them or seek help.

Well, in all honesty, a face to face check up and an x-ray or two are usually needed for a true diagnosis.

But being the tooth whisperer (*chuckle*) that I am, here are some red flags–i.e. the I-can’t-affort-to-let-THIS-get-outta-hand–that require immediate attention:

1. Sensitivity to heat

While it’s not uncommon to get a zinger or two with cold things like ice water or ice-cream, its inconvenient though not often serious. But ooh boy if you get a zinger with your hot coffee or soup, it’s time to take notice.

Heat is a signal, loud and clear, that something is brewing, like a cavity or a root canal-to-be.

2. Lumps or bumps

Notice something new (to you) that wasn’t there before, on your lip, gums or tongue? If it doesn’t go away within a week or so on its own, get it checked.

It may be nothing serious, at least that’s what we hope for. Then again, it could. And there’s only one way to find out–by getting it looked at and possibly biopsied.

‘Biopsy’ may be a scary word, but all it is is getting a sample of your cheek or tongue using a swab or a brush for a closer look. The last thing you want to do is ignore it, and it turn out to be oral cancer.

The same goes for any red or white spots, even if they’re not lumpy or bumpy.

3. Throbbing toothache

A dull and/or throbbing ache almost always is an infection waving to you, Yoo hoo, I’m here!

Left on its own to dilly dally, infection can keep spreading, painful or not. Before long, it can spread far enough to be life-threatening (and yes, an infection from something as small as a tooth can do that).

On a side note, I’ll add that it is perfectly possible to have a cavity, a lump or an infection happily brewing inside your body, and IT NOT HURT.

Then again, neither does dangerously high blood pressure or cholesterol . . . at first.

Out of sight may mean out of mind, but not necessarily out of trouble.

We strongly advocate prevention and oral wellness, but if you have an issue that’s misbehaving, let us know.

Prevention doesn’t just mean not allowing a problem to happen, it also means tackling it early if it does, thus making it able to be treated faster, before it gets painful and with more conservative means, and usually easier on your wallet.

Ditch the red flags and stay out of tooth trouble. Raise the white flags instead, and declare a truce with your teeth 😉

(214) 522-3110        www.raodentistry.com

Have questions? Call or email us via our website, or ask in the comments!

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Filed under Emergency, Oral Cancer, Oral Health, Wellness

Burn, Baby Burn

Imagine this:

He’s at a swanky cocktail party. A gorgeous, sexy woman in a jaw-dropping slinky dress gives him the ‘come hither’ look. Curiosity (and temptation) win out and he heads over. He says hello. She waves a cigarette and says, “Got a light?”  He pulls out his lighter, and obliges. 

This may seem like a scene out of Mad Men, and has perhaps the brewings of a hot and heavy drama about to spew.

But while a bombshell with a cigarette can get your heart rate up, real life smoking is not quite as sexy. In fact, smoking-especially when combined with alcohol-is a major risk factor for Oral Cancer. This applies to men and women, and almost 90% of all oral cancer patients are smokers.

Let’s go from the outside in. Years of lighting up can put those not-so-attractive brown stains on your teeth, courtesy of tar and nicotine. Do it enough and you’re more at risk for irritated gums and periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Sexy? I think not.

In addition, prolonged smoking can alter your sense of taste (some say this can lead to over-eating in an attempt to achieve taste satisfaction). And I haven’t even mentioned the less-than-tasty smoker’s breath.

But when we’re talking about oral cancer, it’s more than just discolored teeth or bad breath. We are talking serious stuff. Often there is no pain, and it’s difficult to do a thorough self check.

So I stress to you-keep up with your dental check ups! When you come see us, we do a screening at every visit, ask if anything is bugging you, and if something suspicious pops up, we emphasize a follow-up visit, or have you consult our friendly neighborhood specialist to know once and for all. This goes double if you smoke.

Next time you think about lighting up, how about not? Now THAT’S hot.

Questions? Call us at (214) 522-3110 and let us help! Or share in the comments.

www.raodentistry.com

PS: April is Oral Cancer Awareness month.

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Filed under Oral Cancer, Oral Health, Smoking