Oral cancer ranks amongst top three most common cancers in India. Unfortunately the Indian population doesn’t know much about it as education regarding the subject is scarce even though awareness about oral health in general is gradually rising. While cancer is certainly a scary word, there is no need to be scared. All we need is good awareness and regular visits to our trusted dentist to rule out the risk and to manage the condition at the earliest if the need be. Here are some key points to know about oral cancer:
- Tobacco chewing, Cigarette smoking, Alcohol consumption: while these three evils certainly are commonly known as agents that put us at a risk of oral cancer, we as a society have failed to remove them completely out of the system. Tobacco is still widely used and easily available in the Indian market and surprisingly a lot of educated people fall for the trap. While the habit may seem tough to quit at first, it just needs a strong will power and a little love for your own life to overcome the habit.
- Areca nut (supari) commonly found in pan and related products is a culprit that very few are aware of. As dental practitioners, we come across numerous cases of arecanut consumption who have developed potentially dangerous conditions in their mouth. While the conditions are curable in early stages, effort must be made to stop the intake altogether.
- Some people may have very good dietary and social habits and still can be susceptible to oral cancer due to their genetic makeup. While genetics cannot be changed, there are numerous sophisticated diagnostic techniques available now-a-days to identify and nip the problem in its bud. The simplest way to follow is to visit your dentist regularly and get a thorough check up done. Dentistry is not just about teeth. Our oral tissues (cheeks, gums, tongue, palate) also need to be disease-free and a dentist is the only specialist trained to diagnose any such conditions.
- In case you identify any red spots, white spots, ulcers, swelling, pigmentation or any abnormal changes in your mouth, there is no reason to panic. There are so many conditions that can cause these symptoms. Dentists come across so many patients scared that they may be suffering from oral cancer if they notice an ulcer inside their mouth. While it’s sensible to be worried and visit the dentist at the earliest, more often than not, these are common treatable conditions.
- Nutritional deficiencies have been noticed to weaken our oral tissues. While evidence of any direct link with cancer is still being investigated, it’s always advisable to have a healthy lifestyle and take care of the nutrient intake in our diet. A bunch of green leafy vegetables, some fruits and a good intake of healthy fluids daily can go a long way in supplementing our bodies naturally.
- The simplest factor to take care of is your routine oral & dental health. Long standing infections, ignored cavities, gum disease, painful wisdom teeth etc can many times lead to risky conditions. Any infection in the oral cavity is certainly not healthy as that is the gateway for our food to go into our system.
To conclude, we as a society must pledge to dislodge oral cancer from its third rank in our country. Let’s educate ourselves, our families, our friends and our society and eliminate this evil altogether. A few simple steps will definitely make us emerge as the winner in the battle against oral cancer.