Oral Cancer and how to prevent it

Oral cancer, also called mouth cancer, is on the increase. It also has a high proportion of deaths per number of cases in the UK, far higher than other cancers such as cervical, breast or skin cancer. This is due in part to late diagnosis. The latest figures for the UK show about 2,700 deaths from oral cancer per year.

Oral-cancerAs with any type of cancer, early diagnosis vastly improves a patient’s chances of making a good recovery. But because many people don’t notice the symptoms until they become more severe, it is often diagnosed late. Because of this and because dentists are perfectly placed to spot the early signs and symptoms, at SW9 Dental we undertake oral cancer screening as a standard part of your general dental check-up. If you notice anything unusual between dental check-ups, we urge you to come and see us as soon as possible. Remember: early diagnosis saves lives.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth, including on the tongue, lips, gums and throat. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Ulcers that don’t heal
  • Red or white patches in the mouth or in the throat
  • A lump (which may or may not be painful)
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Pain/difficulty swallowing food or drink
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • Problems with speech, or other changes to your voice
  • Areas of numbness in the mouth
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Teeth that become loose for no obvious reason
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else strange, please get in touch with us straight away.

Oral cancer screening is a short, simple process carried out here at the practice. We will carefully examine your mouth inside and outside, and will use a handheld scanning device to examine any lesions or lumps. If we do find anything suspicious we will immediately refer you to a hospital consultant for further investigation and treatment as necessary.

Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, chewing tobacco and excess alcohol consumption. We can provide you with help to stop smoking, please talk to any member of our team if you would like this support.

How to prevent bad breath (halitosis)

Bad breath: it’s a subject nobody likes to talk about. However, it’s also a common problem that most people will experience at some point in life. There are many causes of bad breath and the key to preventing or treating it is finding the underlying cause.

fresh breathSometimes, in cases of temporary bad breath, the cause is dietary – garlic, for example, is a well-known culprit. At other times an underlying medical condition such as sinusitis, diabetes or the common cold can lead to bad breath, and treating the condition should solve the breath problem.

However, one of the most common causes of bad breath is poor dental hygiene.

If you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, bacteria and particles of food may build up. This can lead to an unpleasant smell and a nasty taste in your mouth. Bad breath is also one of the common symptoms of gum disease, which is caused by inadequate dental hygiene.

An important step in combatting bad breath is keeping regular appointments with a dental hygienist. Most people know that hygienists professionally clean teeth, using special pastes and tools in a procedure known as a scale and polish. This of course is vitally important as even those with a good home brushing regime may have areas that are difficult to clean properly.

Another key role played by the hygienist is advising patients on how to develop an effective home-care regime of their own. This may involve types of brush to use, special equipment such as interdental brushes, and medicated mouthwashes. Your hygienist can also provide you with dietary advice, including the importance of cutting down on sugary or acidic foods and how they can affect your teeth.

To book a dental hygiene appointment, get in touch with one of our reception team today, and wave goodbye to bad breath forever.