This November, its Mouth Cancer Action Month – which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and make a difference by saving thousands of lives through early detection and prevention. In the UK, more than 7,500 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, and worryingly, the figures are only set to rise.
When you wear braces, you’re probably more aware of what’s going on in your mouth than someone who doesn’t have them, but it could also mean that you mistake potential problems for brace related issues.
As part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, we’d like to remind all of patients about the importance maintaining good oral hygiene while undergoing orthodontic treatment, as well as being aware of any potential problems.
What should I be looking out for?
When you wear braces, you might find you have sores or ulcers due to the metal rubbing on your cheeks and gums, but if you’ve had them for three weeks or more, it’s time to get checked out by a dentist or orthodontist. While it may be harmless, it could also be a sign of something more sinister. The same can be said for any white or red patches in your mouth, along with any unusual swelling or lumps.
What kinds of things increase the risk of oral cancer?
Most oral cancer cases can be related to tobacco and alcohol, especially when used together. It can also be linked to chewing substances like betel quid, qutkha and paan, as well as the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and can be spread through oral sex – it can be avoided by using condoms.
What if there’s something unusual?
If your dentist finds something concerning, they will refer you to a consultant at hospital, who will give your mouth and throat a thorough examination. A sample of cells might then be taken which will be sent off for analysis. If cancer is detected, the consultant is likely to order more tests to check your overall health and whether the cancer has spread. Fortunately, if detected early, oral cancer can usually be cured – the problem arises when people fail to take their oral health seriously and it’s left too late.
As orthodontists, we are trained to diagnose, treat and prevent oral health problems, which is why we would always encourage you to call or visit if you have any concerns. To speak to one of our team, call us today on: 0161 622 0987.