The Impact Of Oral Cancers
Mouth cancer – a major impact on lives.
At the Confidental Clinic, we put a lot of emphasis not only on having healthy teeth but also on full mouth care. Our gums, cheeks, tongue and throat are all important and any problems that arise with them can have a significantly negative impact on our lives.
Taking good care of this area of our body is not difficult and, in addition to brushing our teeth and gums, largely involves avoiding certain bad habits which we will come to later. We will also take a brief look at what our patients need to do to minimise the risk of oral cancer, but first we are going to take a look at what it can mean if you do suffer from this disease.
The worst possible outcome of oral cancer is death. Although this is relatively rare if detected early on, it does happen and in the US, around 10,000 people die of it each year. Of course, with a smaller population, this number is not as high here in the UK, but it is important to remember that it can, and does, happen. One important way to minimise this risk is to make sure you keep up your oral health checks at Confidental Clinic so that any potential problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Eating and drinking
The treatment sometimes used for mouth cancer cases can often leave the mouth very dry for a long period of time. This not only often causes soreness and irritation but makes swallowing much more difficult. Cancers in certain areas of the mouth can make this even more so, with some patients finding it difficult to even swallow liquids.
This can sometimes be eased with gels provided by your GP and you should use these as instructed. However sore your mouth is, you should also make sure that you clean your teeth and gums as well as possible and on a regular basis.
Any cancer of the mouth, and the subsequent treatment, is likely to have an impact on your ability to speak as you are used to. It may take some time to adjust to this, but many patients learn to adjust with the help of professional speech therapy. It may be tempting to hide yourself away because you feel ashamed or embarrassed by this problem, but the support of close friends and relatives can be invaluable at this difficult time.
Having medical surgery to remove tumours can have a physical impact on our bodies and this is especially obvious when it applies to our face, head and neck areas. On a plus point, modern surgical and reconstructive treatment is now often much more discreet than in the past. Seeking professional advice, such as counselling to help with this often inevitable aspect of cancer treatment, can also help significantly.
Cancer prevention and early treatment
There are two key messages that we hope our Greenwich patients will take from this blog. Firstly, it is worth the effort to look after your mouth to minimise any potential risks. Secondly, the importance of having an oral health check with one of our dentists at least every six months. Any irregularities found during these does not necessarily mean that we have detected a tumour, but it is important that you see your GP for further investigation. Early detection and treatment means that any of the effects mentioned above can hopefully be minimised.
How to minimise the risks
The biggest factor in oral cancer is smoking and heavy drinking. Both of these have been heavily linked to mouth cancers and should be stopped or at least, in the case of alcohol consumption, kept to a sensible level. If you need help with this, do not be afraid to seek it. There is a great deal of help available to help you to stop smoking and you may well also find local support groups that can also offer help and encouragement.
HPV is also a growing risk and if you are young and in a high risk category, it is worth discussing with your GP if you can have a vaccination. These are increasingly being rolled out for younger people now, but there is no harm in asking so that you don’t miss out.
Finally, remember that the daily routine care that you take of your teeth and gums is important. Whatever you do, don’t let this slip. A good brushing of your teeth both morning and night, combined with the introduction of flossing between your teeth, if you don’t already do so, will help to give you a firm foundation for a healthy mouth and also help you to avoid not only problems like oral cancers, but more common ones such as cavities and gum disease.
Remember too that we are here to help and are happy to see you not only for your regular check ups but also in between times should you have any concerns about your teeth, gums or other oral problems.
You can make an appointment to see one of our dental team by calling the Confidental Clinic on 020 8858 1422.