Dental Care for Seniors: Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

Mobile dentists for senior oral health

Dental Care for Seniors: Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

When cells in our mouths and lips mutate in their DNA, cancer cells are formed. A cell’s DNA acts like a controller that directs the cell on what to do. When cells develop changes, they continue to divide and grow as healthy cells die. This, in turn, results in a tumor which may spread in other parts of the head and body. Oral cancers usually begin in thin flat cells or squamous cells that line the inside of your mouth and lips. Dentists and medical professionals have identified various signs of oral cancer.

Signs of oral cancer

Signs of oral cancer may sometimes be mistaken for other medical problems such as colds and toothaches. The best thing to do is to see your dentist or physician for a proper diagnosis of your oral problem. Some of the main symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Pain in the mouth
  • A sore in the mouth, gums, tonsil, or lip that persists
  • Damaged and loose teeth
  • Red or white patch inside the mouth
  • Thickening or a lump in the cheek
  • Feeling pain in the jaw and teeth
  • Having difficulty in swallowing and chewing food
  • Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
  • Feeling discomfort in the throat
  • Sore throat or feeling of something stuck
  • Feeling of numbness in the mouth and tongue
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Pain in the face around the mouth or ear
  • Change in voice
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A lump in the neck
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Tenderness in areas around the face

Here is a short video summarizing some of the indications of oral cancer:

Who is most at risk?

The demographics of oral cancer patients have been steady for several years. Three percent of cancer cases in the United States represent oral cancer. Among this, a significant percentage represents seniors – more than 50% are above the age of 65, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Historically, the majority of people who are under the risk of oral cancer are adults above the age of 50. This means that the older you get, the more you are at risk. The study also shows that older men are at more risk than women since more men tend to use tobacco and alcohol, which are significant risks.

Some risk factors

According to the ACS, men are at risk of getting oral cancer than women, especially men above 50. Some of the risk factors include:

Smoking tobacco

Smoking tobacco through pipes, cigars, cigarettes, etc. is one of the primary causes of oral cancer.

Using tobacco through other means

This includes chewing, sniffing, dip, etc. Smokeless tobacco poses a significant risk to oral health and is 50 times more likely to cause cancer in the lining of the lips, gums, and cheeks.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

It is a virus passed on through sexual intercourse. Some HPV variants are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)

Excessive consumption of alcohol

Alcohol users are six times at risk of oral cancer than non-drinkers.

Genetics – having a family history of the problem

Cancer is known to be potentially passed on from generation to generation. This is also a risk factor. Another risk factor is excessive exposure to the sun, especially from a young age.

How common is oral cancer in nonsmokers

Study shows that it is possible to develop oral cancer even without smoking and drinking. It is estimated that about 25 percent of oral cancer problems occur in people that don’t smoke but occasionally drink. However, a small percentage of people develop oral cancer problems from other risk factors such as genetics, low immunity, and Human papillomavirus (HPV).

Mobile dentists for senior oral healthHow to reduce risk

Don’t start using tobacco and quit if you do
Tobacco is the main factor associated with oral cancer. If you are a smoker, quit. If you have never smoked before, don’t start now. This is a significant preventative measure.

Quit or limit your alcohol intake
Excessive use of alcohol regularly increases the risk of oral cancer by irritating mouth cells. Experts recommend that you drink in moderation. Up to two drinks a day for adults 65 and younger and one drink a day for adults older than 65.

Visit your dentists regularly
Visiting your dentist should be part of your routine. It is an essential step to assess your oral health and solve oral; problems before they become complicated.

Limit your exposure to the sun
Among the preventative measures against the sun include applying sun protection and wearing broad-brimmed hats that protect your face. You can also stay in the shade as much a possible.

How a dentist can help

Seeing a medical expert for oral cancer screening is essential, especially in older adults. It is a quick and straightforward procedure that helps you maintain your oral health. Additionally, it can be easily incorporated in the extensive evaluation of older patients’ oral health. Screening is essential for early detection and treatment. It is recommended that older patients see a dentist more frequently than they visit their physician. Oral cancer can be detected from lesions found in the mouth. If you see a sore in your mouth, see your dentists immediately.

Maintaining your oral health needs more than brushing and flossing every morning. It requires regular appointments to see a dentist for checkups and professional advice on your oral condition. As a mobile dentist for seniors, we are providing preventative services for oral problems at your location to make it easier for the elderly to fulfill an appointment in order to prevent cancer-related risks, improve oral health, and maintain overall wellbeing.