Every day around three Australians are diagnosed with oral cancer. While it may not be the most common cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is essential.
It’s estimated that 80% of people at some point in their life will experience some form of gum disease. Gum disease – also called periodontal disease – is the result of an infection, which has spread to the gums and tooth roots.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It is the infection of the gums from bacteria resulting from poor oral hygiene, causing inflammation, gum tenderness and bleeding when brushing and flossing.
When treated early by the Infinity Dental Care team gingivitis can be reversed. It can also be prevented in the future by adopting a thorough oral hygiene routine and attending regular appointments at Infinity Dental Care every six months.
Periodontal disease is a condition that increases in its severity the longer it is left untreated. When gum disease has progressed from gingivitis, it is referred to as periodontitis.
The most common cause of gum disease is plaque, a clear sticky film over the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque attacks the gum tissue and tooth enamel, causing both gum disease and tooth decay.
Brushing twice a day (morning after breakfast and night before bed) and flossing will help prevent the build-up of plaque.
There are signs and symptoms that can indicate the development of gum disease and include:
• Swollen and tender gums that bleed when you floss or brush your teeth
• Space that has recently formed between teeth
• Receding gum line that makes your teeth look longer
• Pus between teeth
• Mouth sores
• Constant bad breath
• Changes in how your teeth bite together.
During your screening exam, we will closely assess the inside of your mouth to check for abnormal looking red or white patches or mouth sores. We may also physically feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other anomalies.
An oral exam cannot determine which sores are cancerous and which are not. So to be on the safe side, we dentist may refer you for further tests to determine the cause of the abnormality. The only way to definitively determine whether you have oral cancer is via a biopsy where some cells are removed and sent to a pathology laboratory for testing.
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
• Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Previous oral cancer diagnosis.