At Trillium Dental, we include oral cancer screenings as part of our general dentistry appointments. Our dentists strive to provide the best dental care for all of our patients, and for us, that means taking a comprehensive approach to your family’s dental care. When you schedule a checkup at one of our eight dental clinics in Ottawa, we’ll provide a thorough teeth cleaning and flossing, as well as dental x-rays (if you’re due) and an oral cancer screening during your appointment. That being said, here are the signs of oral cancer that our dentists look for.
A common sign of oral cancer is one or more lumps in the mouth, lips, or gums. Often, patients who have early-stage mouth cancer don’t notice this symptom until it is pointed out by their family dentist, which is why we feel your cheeks, neck, and jaw area during your dental checkups. However, many of them do notice this symptom when their mouth tissue begins to thicken or swell, or if rough spots appear in or around the mouth cavity. Whatever the case, if you notice that something is off with your oral tissue, it’s best to visit your local dental office right away for a thorough dental exam.
Another common symptom of oral cancer is white or red patches appearing in the mouth. These growths will look and feel velvety, which certainly isn’t normal for a healthy oral cavity. If you see any of these mouth patches cropping up, it’s important not to fuss with them and get yourself to your family dental clinic as soon as possible. Our dentists would be more than happy to take a closer look to assess whether or not the patches are an indication of oral cancer. If we suspect that they are, we’ll refer you to an oral cancer specialist so you can get the appropriate treatment.
Mouth bleeding is normal in some cases, like after wisdom teeth removal. However, unexplained bleeding in the mouth is a cause for concern, especially if you are experiencing any other symptoms of mouth or throat cancer. Do not ignore this symptom and visit your local dentist as soon as possible if you are bleeding from the mouth for no apparent reason.
Sometimes, people with oral cancer experience unexplained numbness in their face, neck, or mouth. While this is not normal and should be addressed right away, try to remain calm and get in touch with your family dental office as soon as possible. Loss of feeling is a fairly common symptom of oral cancer, and our dentists can determine whether or not you should be worried.
PAIN & SORENESS
People who are suffering from oral cancer often develop sores on their face and neck, as well as mouth ulcers (on the cheek tissue, gums, tongue, and the roof of their mouth). These sores tend to bleed easily and do not heal, warranting a visit to the dentist if they do not subside in two weeks. Patients may also experience a sore throat, hoarseness (raspy voice), or the sensation that something is stuck in the back of their throat. Any of these symptoms may be an indication of a growth or patch of oral cancer that has developed in the throat.
Often, people notice the signs of oral cancer when they eat. It is not uncommon for people with throat or mouth cancer to experience pain when chewing and swallowing, as well as difficulty moving the jaw and tongue. Some people also notice that their teeth don’t fit together as well as they used to, and that they have persistent bad breath. It is important to pay attention to these signs and visit your dentist for an oral exam, rather than brushing it off and waiting for other symptoms to arise.
Sudden weight loss is a common sign of many different types of cancer, including lymphoma and oral cancer. Alone, this symptom can be indicative of lots of different health conditions, but if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms we’ve mentioned, it’s definitely worth a trip to the dentist.
SCHEDULE A DENTAL CHECKUP IN OTTAWA
Though the symptoms of oral cancer can crop up suddenly, there are several things you can do to prevent the onset of throat and mouth cancer. Steering clear of tobacco products is an easy one, as is limiting alcohol consumption. Another thing you can do to avoid developing oral cancer is to take good care of your teeth and gums by prioritizing oral hygiene at home and making regular trips to the dentist. If you are due for a routine dental exam, or you have noticed any of the symptoms listed above, we invite you to visit one of our dental offices in Ottawa for a thorough checkup. Thanks for choosing Trillium Dental — we hope to see you soon!
Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects many people across the globe, particularly cigarette smokers and people with a family history of cancer. Though there is a genetic factor involved, there are several things you can do to prevent the development of oral cancer, which we will outline in this blog post. Continue reading to find out, and be sure to contact our team at Trillium Dental in Ottawa if anything feels abnormal in your mouth or throat. We gladly perform oral cancer screenings as part of our dental exams.
QUIT SMOKING (OR DON’T START)
Tobacco is one of the largest causes of oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and other cancers of the head, throat, and neck — not to mention lung cancer. This is because today’s tobacco products, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vape juice, contain carcinogenic chemicals that are linked to the growth of cancer cells. Specifically, these chemicals can cause grayish-white mouth ulcers to develop, which are called leukoplakia.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, these ulcers and mouth sores can become cancerous, requiring oral surgery and/or radiation to remove. And that’s not to say that it won’t come back. That being said, one of the easiest ways to prevent oral cancer from developing is to stay away from tobacco products — yes, even those “harmless” vapes.
Alcohol is another major contributor to oral cancer, as well as esophageal cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, and the list goes on. However, your risk of developing cancer as a direct cause of alcohol consumption depends on how much, and how frequently, you drink. Scientifically speaking, alcohol alters the body’s chemistry over time, impairing the body from being able to defend itself against the spread of cancer cells.
To avoid developing cancer, not to mention an addiction, our dentists recommend having less than three drinks per day, if any at all. Overexposure to alcoholic beverages can take a toll on the tissues in your mouth, throat, stomach, and other vital organs, rendering them diseased and defenseless. As with tobacco, it’s best to quit binge drinking and limit yourself to the occasional drink if you’re looking to minimize your risk of oral cancer.
GET AN HPV VACCINATION
Other diseases, like human papillomavirus (HPV), can increase your chances of developing oral cancer — particularly oropharyngeal cancers. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, and many people have it in their mouth without even being aware of it. There is no cure for HPV; however, you may be able to avoid contracting it by getting vaccinated before you become sexually active. Most doctors recommend getting vaccinated between the ages of 11 and their mid-20s.
MAKE REGULAR TRIPS TO YOUR LOCAL DENTAL CLINIC
Prevention is the key to avoiding serious diseases like oral cancer and periodontal disease, which are life-threatening health conditions that can in part be prevented with good oral hygiene and regular trips to your family dental clinic. At Trillium Dental in Ottawa, we recommend that patients brush their teeth twice per day and floss daily, in addition to visiting our dental office twice per year for dental checkups. Contact us today to book your next appointment!
In our last blog post, we discussed some of the major ways smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco negatively affect your oral health, like by increasing your risk of developing periodontal disease and oral cancer. Now that you have a solid understanding of how these carcinogens attack the oral cavity, let’s dive into some of the other dental problems associated with tobacco use. Continue reading to learn more, and book your next dental exam today at Trillium Dental in Ottawa to experience the difference of compassionate family dental care.
LOOSE OR MISSING TEETH
Tobacco users are at a heightened risk of losing their teeth, which is a common symptom of periodontitis, or late-stage gum disease. The gums play a vital role in holding the teeth in their proper position, and when inflamed gums swell up, become infected, and pull away from the teeth, this can cause them to loosen, then fall out over time. Some of the most obvious signs of gum disease include sensitive, swollen, or bleeding gums, as well as larger tooth gaps and longer-looking teeth with exposed tooth roots. Eventually, if you are suffering from gum disease or oral cancer and do not seek medical treatment, these teeth will likely fall out due to the decaying structure in the underlying jawbone, which is responsible for supporting the entire oral cavity.
Often, smokers and tobacco chewers will show early signs of tooth decay, such as grey or black spots appearing on the surface where the tooth enamel has been eaten away by plaque, tartar, and acid buildup along the gumline. As mentioned in part one of this blog series, the chemicals in cigarettes and chewing tobacco accelerate the process of tooth deterioration, as they feast on the teeth and gums in much the same way that sugar does. In many cases, this leads to dark tooth discoloration, which can only be remedied with teeth whitening gel, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or even dental implants, depending on the circumstance (and the remaining jawbone structure). Smokers are especially at risk of developing this kind of tooth discoloration, as the carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco products leave a dark trail behind when frequently consumed.
TOOTHACHES & JAW PAIN
Obviously, you’ll experience some pain if your teeth are decaying, loose, or falling out altogether. Gum disease and oral cancer are largely to blame for this, as these oral diseases degrade the jawbone, teeth, and oral tissue supporting the mouth in what can only be described as a long, painful process if proper dental care is not sought out. In addition to the sores and mouth ulcers that tobacco users experience during the early stages of oral cancer, persistent toothaches, jaw pain, and sore gums are other painful consequences of smoking. Smokers may also experience bad breath and an unpleasant taste in their mouth that doesn’t go away with normal brushing and flossing, which goes hand-in-hand with oral infections, tooth decay, and unfortunately, a great deal of pain if this goes untreated.
BOOK A DENTAL EXAM AT OUR FAMILY DENTAL CLINIC IN OTTAWA
At the end of the day, the best way to avoid developing oral cancer, gum disease, tooth decay, and other painful dental problems is to maintain good oral hygiene habits — and to quit smoking. If you need help quitting smoking, check out these resources from the Canadian Cancer Society, and be sure to visit our Ottawa dental clinic for regular teeth cleanings and oral cancer screenings at least twice per year. Feel free to contact us to answer any questions you have about your oral health, or book an appointment online at Trillium Dental in Ottawa.
Most people know that smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco is bad for their oral health, but many do so anyway. Perhaps it is because they wanted to look cool in front of their teenage friends and formed an addiction over the years, or maybe it’s because they find comfort in the act of smoking with a nice, warm cup of Joe. While we’re not here to judge, we do have some bad news for smokers: tobacco use is one of the biggest causes of many serious oral infections and diseases.
At Trillium Dental, we care about our patients’ oral health and do everything in our power to ensure that they are maintaining good oral hygiene habits between teeth cleanings at our Ottawa dental clinic. Our job is to ensure that you are receiving the best dental care possible, even if that means reminding you to use dental floss more often or to quit smoking. That being said, here are a few ways smoking cigarettes negatively affects your oral health.
INCREASED RISK OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
One of the most significant impacts smoking has on your oral health is that it causes an increase in plaque and tartar buildup along the gumline, which eats away at the tooth enamel. Your gums need a smooth, clean surface to attach themselves to — otherwise, they can recede and become infected. Smoking and chewing tobacco accelerate the process of the tooth enamel breaking down, as the carcinogenic chemicals in these products aggressively attack the teeth and surrounding oral tissue. It is believed that these chemicals also interfere with the ability of gum tissue to function and protect the roots of the teeth, leaving them prone to infections like gingivitis, also known as early-stage gum disease.
Though the symptoms of gum disease are not always apparent at first, they will progress over time to include gum recession and puffiness, gum and tooth sensitivity, persistent jaw pain, and loose or missing teeth due to tooth decay and a deteriorating jawbone. There are many health risks associated with gum disease, and not all of them have to do with the oral cavity. In fact, periodontitis is also linked to serious health conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and pancreatic cancer, as this infection can enter the bloodstream via swollen or bleeding gums and attack vital organs throughout the body. And, you guessed it — much of this can be avoided if you quit smoking and take good care of your teeth.
INCREASED RISK OF ORAL CANCER
Another common dental problem caused by cigarettes and chewing tobacco is an increased risk of oral cancer, which is a major cause for concern among dental patients who smoke. This, again, is largely due to the carcinogens in these addictive products, which can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, sinuses, and lungs, as well as pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and countless other life-threatening diseases. The lungs and oral cavity are especially susceptible to developing cancerous cells, as they have the most direct contact with the carcinogenic particles when the smoke or tobacco juice rests on the teeth, gums, cheeks, throat, and lungs.
Because of this, it is not uncommon for chain smokers or long-time smokers and tobacco chewers to notice red and white patches (leukoplakia) cropping up on the inside of their mouths. Though this is not always an indicator of oral cancer (sometimes these are cold sores or canker sores), red and white mouth sores, lumps, patches, and mouth ulcers are all symptoms of a serious oral health problem. Of course, oral cancer is fairly easy to avoid if you are not genetically predisposed to the condition and do not use tobacco products. Fortunately, our dentists and dental hygienists include oral cancer screenings as part of our routine dental exams, so we may be able to catch the early signs before it progresses into a more serious problem. If we do notice signs of oral cancer during your dental cleaning, we’ll point you in the right direction for treatment.
SCHEDULE A DENTAL EXAM IN OTTAWA AT TRILLIUM DENTAL
At Trillium Dental in Ottawa, we work to ensure that each of our patients receives the best dental care possible through routine teeth cleanings and additional dental treatments when necessary. For smokers who have developed gingivitis or periodontitis, we offer a number of gum disease treatments, including root planing (tartar removal), gingival grafts, gingivectomies, and crown lengthening procedures.
In addition to periodontics, we also perform oral cancer screenings and restorative dentistry treatments, such as dental implants, dental crowns, and dental bridges, which aim to replace decayed or missing teeth. Whatever the case may be, our dentists are prepared to treat any patient who is suffering from the consequences of smoking on their oral health, even if that means referring them to an oral surgeon or an oral cancer specialist who can provide the appropriate treatment. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are concerned about your oral health, or feel free to make an appointment with us online.
As family dentists, we understand that oral cancer screenings and cancers of the mouth might sound scary to some, which is why we’re breaking it all down in this blog post. As it turns out, oral cancer screenings are nothing more than a simple inspection of your mouth, tongue, and gums for any indication of oral cancer. This is included in your general dentistry check up as a proactive measure to ensure that no signs or symptoms or oral cancer are going unnoticed or untreated.
At Trillium Dental in Ottawa, we provide each and every one of our patients with comprehensive dental care, from routine teeth cleanings to cosmetic, restorative, and sedation dentistry procedures. For us, this means taking all the preventative measures we can to reduce your risk of developing oral health problems like gum disease, cavities, jawbone deterioration, and oral cancer. That being said, here is what you need to know about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
ORAL CANCER IS DISCREET AT FIRST
The troubling thing about oral cancer is that it can develop without causing the person any pain or discomfort, meaning that it can go unnoticed for quite some time. Given that oral cancer takes the form of small white or red patches, it can be misconstrued as cold sores or canker sores, leading some people to believe that it will eventually go away on its own. Experienced dentists and dental hygienists will be able to identify these patches as oral cancer, so it is incredibly important to schedule regular appointments at your local dental clinic where they can inspect your mouth for signs of the disease.
SYMPTOMS OF ORAL CANCER
Once oral cancer progresses, the signs and symptoms will become more clear. Indications of oral cancer include:
- Patches — One of the first signs of oral cancer is the emergence of small white and red patches along the inside of the mouth. These patches can form anywhere in the oral cavity, but the most common areas are the inside of the lips, the cheek tissue, the front of the tongue, the floor and roof of the mouth, the tonsils, and along the gumline.
- Mouth sores — Once oral cancer starts to form, it can develop into visible mouth sores that sting to the touch (also known as mouth ulcers).
- Swelling — Unlike the kind of swelling that happens when you bite your cheek or tongue, swelling from oral cancer can last for weeks or even months.
- Lumps — Sometimes, oral cancer takes the form of lumps in the oral tissue or thickened lining of the mouth.
- Loose teeth — Given that oral cancer attacks the mouth and surrounding structures, the gumline can become weak, causing teeth to become loose or fall out in more advanced stages.
- Pain — Victims of oral cancer will experience painful chewing, tongue and jaw pain, a sore throat, discomfort when swallowing, and persistent pain in the back of the neck or ears.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
As with other types of cancer, everyone is at a different risk of developing oral cancer. While some genetic factors and syndromes are at play, the oral disease is highly linked to specific genders and ages, as well as lifestyle choices. Some of the factors that put people at a higher risk of developing oral cancer are:
- Being a man — Unfortunately, men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer, according to WebMD, the American Cancer Society, and other medical sources. While the reason for this is still being debated, it is believed that as a group, men are more likely to consume tobacco and alcohol.
- Age — According to Cancer Treatment Centers Of America®, the average age of patients diagnosed with oral cancer is 62, and about two-thirds of this population is over the age of 55.
- Tobacco use — Given that modern tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco are filled with carcinogens, they are a major risk factor that leads to oral cancer. In fact, nearly 80 percent of people with oral cancers consume tobacco or have done so significantly in the past.
- Alcohol consumption — Alcohol is another major risk factor linked to oral cancer, as nearly 70 percent of people with the disease have a history of binge-drinking.
- Genetics — Oral cancer shares a lot of similarities with other cancer types, including the fact that the genetic mutations that cause it can be passed down to future generations, as well as related health conditions that have strong links to oral cancer such as fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenita.
- HPV — Human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to many different forms of cancer, including those of the mouth, throat, and genitals.
VISIT TRILLIUM DENTAL FOR A DENTAL CHECK UP AND ORAL CANCER SCREENING
If you have noticed any of the symptoms of oral cancer mentioned in this blog post or are concerned about the factors that put you at risk of developing the disease, contact our dentists at Trillium Dental. We would be happy to provide you with a general dentistry check up and oral cancer screening to discuss your dental health.