What do talking, laughing, eating and kissing all have in common? Each requires a healthy mouth. Keeping your teeth, gums and lips healthy with regular brushing and flossing can reduce your risk of halitosis (bad breath), tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer.

If you’re not visiting your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, you could be putting your health at risk. The doctors at Regional Cancer Care Associates’ Central Jersey Division want to remind you how important good oral hygiene is for your overall health during Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and all year long.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer can develop in any part of the mouth including the lips, cheeks, gums, teeth or tongue and may require chemotherapy treatment. If left untreated, oral cancer can be life threatening. Common symptoms of oral cancer are a persistent sore that will not heal, a lump, or a white or red patch on the inside of the mouth.

Types of oral cancers

Here are the different types of oral cancers:

  • Squamous cell cancer
    This type of oral cancer begins in the flat, skin-like (squamous) cells on the inside of the mouth, nose, larynx and throat.
  • Salivary gland cancer
    This type of cancer begins in the salivary glands that are found throughout the lining of the mouth. While it is more common for lumps in this area to be noncancerous, cancers can develop.
  • Adenoid cystic tumor
    This is a rare type of tumor found in the salivary glands or mouth. It usually develops from the glandular tissue found in the parotid gland. These glands are found directly in front of each ear.
  • Lymphoma
    This type of cancer begins in the tonsils and base of the tongue. Painless swelling of a lymph node is the most common sign of lymphoma.
  • Melanoma
    Melanomas develop from the same pigment producing cells that give you a suntan. They are most commonly found on the surface of the skin, however they can also develop on the lips, or inside the nose or mouth. 

How can I reduce my risk?

As with any disease or illness, early detection is vital to successful treatment. We’ve gathered a few tips to help you protect your oral health:

  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Brush and floss after meals
  • Visit your dental hygienist twice yearly
  • Boost your immune system with regular physical activity
  • Use a sunscreen on your lips

To learn more about Regional Cancer Care Associates’ Central Jersey Division and how we combine our expertise and passion to help you live your best life, schedule an appointment today. We are dedicated to your health and wellness.

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