oral cancer

Tobacco Usage and Oral Cancer

Ellis Dental Exam
Ellis Dental Exam

We all know the health risks associated with tobacco use. Lung cancer, heart disease and stroke could drastically be reduced or prevented if people stopped using tobacco products. Smoking, dipping and chewing tobacco is also the number one risk factor when it comes to oral cancers. Over 40,000 people annually will be diagnosed with an oral cancer and age of the patient generally determines the cause of the cancer. For example, the majority of younger non-smoking adults contract oral cancer from the human papilloma virus (HPV), while for the rest of the population, some form of tobacco use is the main culprit.

While tobacco rates here in the United States are declining as more of the population is becoming educated on the dangers of tobacco use, many researchers and scientists in the public health sector are still pushing to have tobacco declared an illegal substance by the year 2040.

Unfortunately stopping smoking is easier said than done. In fact, studies have shown tobacco addiction is harder to kick than heroin. In spite of graphic advertising campaigns, doctor and dentist intervention and over the counter stop smoking patches, pills and gums, people still continue to harm their bodies by smoking; and this bad habit affects more than just their health. Second hand smoke is a growing health concern and the main reason more cities, businesses and even hotels and apartment communities are banning smoking.

Oral cancers, like many other forms of cancer can be slow growing and hard to detect. Ellis Dental provides complementary oral cancer screenings as part of every hygiene examination. Our last post listed some of the most common oral cancer symptoms. If you believe you have one of these symptoms or feel as though something just “isn’t right,” please call us today to schedule an appointment. Your peace of mind, just like your oral health, is our first concern.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Ellis Dental Tools
Ellis Dental Tools

If you are a smoker, use smokeless tobacco, drink alcoholic beverages to excess, have a family history of oral cancer or have been diagnosed with the HPV virus, you need to be vigilant about changes within your mouth. Though it is important to note that 25 percent of all oral cancers occur in people who have never smoked and drink infrequently. Often very subtle, many of these changes can be life-threatening and need to be treated as soon as possible. If your dentist sees anything inside your mouth that is of a concern, they will advise you to follow up with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Or if you notice any of the follow symptoms, please contact your doctor right away.

  • White, red or a combination of white and red speckled patches in your mouth.
  • Mouth, neck or facial sores that appear with no explanation. These sores may bleed without provocation and never seem to fully heal.
  • Bleeding inside the mouth that can’t be pinpointed back to a bleeding gum or tooth.
  • Lumps, swelling or crusty spots on the lips, gums or inside the mouth itself.
  • Feeling as though you have something stuck in the back of the throat.
  • Pain when chewing, talking or swallowing.
  • Noticing a difference in your bite or the way your dentures fit.

Concerned that something just isn’t right? Don’t wait until your next cleaning to have it checked out. Please call

Dr. Ellis

today and schedule an appointment. Remember: peace of mind is everything.