Posts for tag: oral cancer
If you’ve noticed a small sore in your mouth, it’s possible you have a non-contagious disease known as lichen planus. Although usually benign, it’s still a good idea to have it examined and monitored.
The condition is so named because its lesions are similar in appearance to lichen, the algae and fungi organism often found on rocks and trees. It’s believed to be a type of autoimmune disease, in which the body treats some of its own cells as foreign and reacts adversely to them. Certain medications and substances may also cause a lichenoid reaction. Besides the inner cheeks, gums or tongue, lichen planus may also appear on other skin or mucous surfaces on the wrists, legs or fingernails.
When it appears inside the mouth it usually resembles a lacy pattern of white lines or ulceration. Gum tissues may become red and inflamed, with some soreness after brushing or eating. Although there’s no known cure for lichen planus, it rarely causes serious problems — in fact, you may not even be aware you have the condition unless pointed out during a dental exam. It may, in time, fade away.
If the lesions do become bothersome (painful, itchy or overly-sensitive), there are some ways to ease discomfort: brushing with a soft toothbrush (to minimize irritation), flossing, and avoiding acidic or spicy foods and beverages which have been known to cause flare-ups. Managing stress is also helpful, and a topical steroid may be prescribed for more severe outbreaks.
Perhaps the greatest concern with lichen planus, though, is it may resemble more serious conditions, particularly oral cancer. The only way to be certain that it is a benign condition is to perform a biopsy on some of the affected tissue. If you notice a problem, be sure to visit us for a complete examination. And regardless of whether you have the condition or not, regular oral cancer screenings, as well as limits on alcohol consumption and stopping use of tobacco, will also reduce your risk of oral cancer.
Odds are if you have a case of lichen planus it isn’t causing you any problems. If it does cause you discomfort, though, you can take steps to ease your symptoms.
Are there actually ways to reduce your risk of oral cancer?
Oral cancer is a terrible disease that can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications. If you’ve known someone who has it then chances are you know the devastation it can cause. If so, you may be wondering how you can protect yourself. Are there actually things you can do? Our Atlanta, GA, dentist, Dr. Thomas Kauffman, weighs in on the subject.
While it’s impossible to fully prevent oral cancer there are things you can do to reduce your risk of oral cancer including:
If you use tobacco products of any kind and you want to protect yourself against oral cancer then it’s high time that you quit smoking. Of course, we know that this is easier said than done, but our Atlanta general dentist would love to help you in any way possible, whether it’s looking up local support groups or making sure you come in more regularly for routine oral cancer screenings.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors linked to oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, those who smoke are 15 times more likely than non-users to develop oral cancer.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Another risk factor for oral cancer is heavy alcohol consumption. If you are a heavy drinker (men who drink more than 4 alcoholic beverages a day or women who drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages a day, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), it’s time that you cut back to protect your oral health.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a drink ever again. You can still enjoy going out and having a glass or two of wine or having a cocktail with friends, just follow the “everything in moderation” rule and you’ll be fine.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Even if you feel healthy this doesn’t mean that you should skip out on your biannual exams. During these exams not only do we check for decay and gum disease but we also screen for oral cancer. You may not even know that we are doing it but we do this every time you come in for preventive care. By keeping up with these visits we are more likely to catch cancer in its earliest stages, which means a better prognosis for you.
Whether you are experiencing symptoms of oral cancer or you just need to schedule your next dental appointment, feel free to call our downtown Atlanta, GA, office anytime. We are here to make sure you get the very best dental care you can.