If you are currently using smokeless tobacco, you are putting your oral health and your overall health at risk. Smokeless tobacco is one of the leading causes of oral cancers: very aggressive cancers that form in the mouth and throat. If not detected early and aggressively treated, these forms of cancers are associated with very high mortality rates.
The most common signs and symptoms of mouth cancers include the following:
- persistent cough
- hoarseness or changes in your voice
- difficulty swallowing
- ear pain
- lump or sore in your mouth or throat that does not heal
- weight loss
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should notify your physician immediately so he or she can examine your mouth and throat and run the necessary tests to properly diagnose your condition.
To aid in the early detection of oral cancers, most dentists are now performing oral cancers screenings as a part of a routine dental examination. If you are receiving routine dental examinations every six-months, you should be receiving the screenings you need to detect oral cancer in its earliest stages. Early detection and treatment is currently the best defense we have against this serious and potentially deadly disease. If you have not been to a dentist for a routine dental examination in more than six months, it is time to schedule that appointment.
You can also decrease your risk for oral cancers by quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco products. If you are currently using tobacco in any form, talk to your doctor today about a healthy strategy for quitting.
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