Smoking and alcohol are established risk factors for oral cancer (cancers of the mouth and throat).
But oral cancers in non smokers are also on the rise and numerous studies are being conducted to find out the risk factors for oral cancer in general.
Literature suggests that “Chronic Dental Irritation” may contribute to the development of cancers of the mouth and throat in both smokers and non-smokers.
Chronic Dental Irritation means long-term irritation of the soft tissues in the mouth. This continuous trauma when left unnoticed and ignored might cause the repeatedly irritated site to transform to malignancy.
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Sharp cusps of teeth, poorly fitting dentures, broken and sharp dental fillings may injure the same site over and over again for months and years. Sharp teeth cause ulcers especially on the sides of the tongue.
Usually, an ulcer is formed which heals within a week only to recur again. Over a period of time, this ulcer could turn cancerous. Similarly, rough edges of ill fitting dentures rub against the lining mucosa of the mouth and cause tissue growths or ulcers.
Dental trauma often appears in regions that are easily injured by teeth or dentures, such as lip, tongue, and cheek mucosa. The cheek mucosa, sides of the tongue is commonly affected sites. In denture wearers it may occur on the floor of the mouth.
Chronic irritation from any agent is a recognized factor in the development of cancer even in other parts of the body. It is said that recurrent or persistent inflammation could make a person susceptible to cancer.
° By Dr. Anveeta Agarwal, BDS, MDS Consultant Oral Pathologist, Associate Dental Surgeon Specialist at Dantah