Anytime you hear the “C” word, things quickly turn very serious. And while you may hear about breast cancer, lung cancer, and other cancers more often than oral cancer, that doesn’t make it any less serious. In fact, it’s important to know about and understand oral cancer so you can spot the risk factors and keep an eye out for any potential symptoms.
At Dr. James C Ross Family, Cosmetic, & Laser Dentistry, we regularly screen our patients for oral cancer as part of a complete healthcare routine. We encourage you to read this post to learn more about oral cancer then schedule an appointment at our Novi, MI dental office.
What Is Exactly Is Oral Cancer?
Cancer, by definition, is the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade surrounding tissue, causing damage. Oral cancer typically shows up as a persistent growth or sore in the mouth.
Oral cancer includes lip, tongue, and cheek cancer, as well as cancers of the floor of the mouth, the hard and soft palate, throat, and sinuses.
If not diagnosed early enough and left untreated, oral cancer can be life-threatening.
Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
Below are the most common signs and symptoms or oral cancer. If you notice any of the changes we’ve listed, be sure to call our Novi, MI dental office as soon as you can.
- Swelling or thickening of the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
- Lumps, bumps, rough spots, crusts, or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
- Smooth white, red, or white and red patches inside the mouth
- Numbness or pain/tenderness in a portion of the face, mouth, or neck
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal within two weeks
- A Sore throat or feeling like something is caught in the back of the throat
- A hard time chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw
- A persistent sore throat, hoarseness, or voice changes
- A change in your bite or the way your teeth or dentures come together
- Unexplained weight loss
Who Is Most At Risk For Oral Cancer?
The most common risk factors or oral cancer include:
- Smoking or tobacco use
Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers. People who use dip, snuff or chewing tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop cheek or gum cancer, as well as cancer of the lining of the lips.
- Excessive alcohol use
People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis are approximately six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nondrinkers.
Additional risk factors include a family history or oral cancer, excessive sun exposure, particularly without protection from the sun’s rays, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Screening For Oral Cancer
When you visit our Novi, MI dental office for a cleaning, we will perform a thorough exam that includes a VELscope oral cancer screening.
The VELscope system involves the use of a handheld scope that we will use to catch any abnormalities in your oral tissue. Those abnormalities include cancer and pre-cancer. At Dr. James C Ross Family, Cosmetic, & Laser Dentistry we use VELscope technology in conjunction with a traditional, complete exam.
Our oral cancer screening process is pain-free, but if you’re experiencing dental anxiety over visiting our office, ask us about our comfort options and ways we can better assist you. Your health and happiness are our top priorities, so let us know what we can do to improve your experience!
Stay On Top Of Your Oral Health
Regular visits to your dentist are an essential part of your oral healthcare routine. During your cleanings, we can check for any abnormalities and potentially catch signs of oral cancer before it’s too late. Prevention is key and we can’t help you prevent oral cancer if you don’t see us at least twice a year!