Like most serious medical issues, it is always easier to prevent oral cancer than it is to treat it once it has developed. Oral cancer is highly curable when it is caught at an early stage, but it can be deadly if ignored. Routine dental visits and a good understanding of your personal risk factors are your best defense against mouth cancer.
Oral Cancer Screenings
When oral cancer goes undiagnosed, it can spread to other areas of the mouth and body, such as the tongue, tonsils, pharynx and gums. Most importantly, it becomes less treatable the later it is detected. Fortunately, your dentist can conduct a quick and painless oral cancer screening during your routine dental visit. This is a major reason to keep these bi-annual checkups and protect your oral health. During an oral cancer screening, your dentist utilizes special training to evaluate suspicious lesions and other abnormalities in the mouth. If necessary, a biopsy may be taken. This biopsy will include a clinical evaluation that will discern if it is cancerous or benign and what stage the lesion is in.
Patients at Risk
The risk of developing oral cancer is based on several factors, none of which are a guarantee that you will or will not get oral cancer. The following can increase your likelihood of oral cancer:
- Genetics, Family History
- Tobacco Use (Up to 80% of Oral Cancer cases involve tobacco products)
- Vaping or Smokeless Tobacco
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption (more than 21 drinks per week)
- Poor Oral Hygiene
Oral Cancer Warning Signs
Oral cancer is not easy to detect on your own. Often, the symptoms are painless and very minor at first. However, make it a priority to examine your entire oral cavity on a routine basis. Look for the following oral cancer warning signs provided by Mayo Clinic:
- A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal.
- A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth.
- Loose teeth.
- A growth or lump inside your mouth.
- Mouth pain.
- Ear pain.
- Difficult or painful swallowing.
Ready to schedule your oral cancer screening at Park South Dentistry? Call our New York office today.