Almost 50,000 American adults are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer on an annual basis. This statistic doesn’t include the additional thousands of individuals who suffer from related cancers of the head and neck. What exactly is oral cancer? Moreover, what are some of the most common signs of the disease? Why should an oral cancer screening be a standard part of your regular dental care? You can find the answers to these critical questions below.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer describes a malignancy that occurs in any portion of the oral cavity. Specifically, by definition, the term malignancy means the growth is capable of spreading into nearby tissues and causing damage to these areas. If not treated properly, oral cancer can progress to the point of causing severe or life-threatening complications.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
In some cases, oral cancer can be caused by smoking or chewing tobacco. Recent research in the field of oral cancer has identified several types of viruses that may occasionally be linked to this disease as well. However, in the majority of patients, the cause of oral cancer remains unknown.
Common Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be present for a long period of time before it develops visible symptoms. This is part of the reason that an oral cancer screening is so important. When symptoms of oral cancer are present, they can include the following:
White Patches in the Mouth
White patches on the gums, the roof of the mouth, or tongue that do not go away can sometimes indicate precancerous or cancerous changes in the oral tissue. It’s always best to have these areas inspected by a qualified dentist right away.
Bleeding in the Mouth
Bleeding in any area of the oral cavity, unless from immediate and direct trauma, is not normal. Unusual bleeding without a direct and explainable cause warrants further investigation.
A Sore or Lump That Does Not Heal
Anyone can develop a sore or lump in the mouth from time-to-time, but these normally heal rather quickly. Promptly seek an evaluation of any sores, lumps, or bumps that don’t heal within a few weeks.
Why is an Oral Cancer Screening Important?
In many cases, precancerous changes take place in the mouth for months before true cancer develops. In fact, repairing the problem is much easier to accomplish. Furthermore, prompt diagnosis allows for the best treatment and survival rates.
An oral cancer screening uses special lights and technologically to identify microscopic changes that are just beginning to occur. These changes can then be adequately treated to prevent further problems.
The Importance of Seeking Care from an Experienced Dentist
When dental problems arise, it’s important to have access to a dentist that is compassionate. Convenient dentistry is widely available for the entire family and can provide you with peace of mind and a healthy smile for the whole family.
About Laughlin Dental
At Laughlin Dental, we fully understand that health and functionality of your mouth are of vital importance to your overall wellbeing. We provide a full range of family and cosmetic dental services to fit the needs of the entire household in one convenient location.
In order to better serve the needs of your family, we also offer dental financing to make the process more affordable. If you and your family are in need of dental care, cosmetic dentistry, or preventative measures to keep your mouth healthy, contact our office at 281.864.0996 to make an appointment request.