No one ever wants to think about or hear the word cancer. Probably the last place you ever thought a person could get cancer is in their mouth. Cancer inside the mouth is known as oral cancer, which will affect an average of about 10 out of 100,000 adults. The likelihood of developing oral cancer increases for adults older than 50. The good news is oral cancer can be detected and treatable if caught early on. A dentist can conduct oral cancer screenings during your regular check-ups. You may have had an oral cancer screening at your last trip to the dentist and didn’t even know it. Oral cancer screenings are typically not painful and could save your life with only a few minutes of your time. To conduct an oral cancer screening a dentist will visually inspect your mouth for any sores or lesions and, while wearing gloves, will gently feel the tissue in your mouth to detect any bumps or abnormalities. If your dentist sees anything of concern, a simple test can be performed by removing a small sample of your tissue cells and sending it to a lab for further testing. This procedure is known as a biopsy.
Studies have shown tobacco use of any kind has been linked to individuals with oral cancer, as well as excessive alcohol use. If you have a history of head or neck cancer, you could be at a higher risk for developing oral cancer. It’s important to know oral cancer is not contagious. Having oral cancer screenings at your routine dental visit can help put your mind at ease and helps identify oral cancer early on.
Signs of oral cancer may include, but are not limited to, white or red patches on the tissue inside your mouth, bumps on your neck, sores on or in your mouth that don’t heal, difficulty or pain when you swallow, or unexplained bleeding in your mouth. These symptoms could be due to another ailment such as an infection, but if you experience any of these symptoms you should consult a dentist immediately for an evaluation. If you develop oral cancer, your dentist can discuss treatment options which may include surgery, radiation treatments, or chemotherapy. Early detection of oral cancer is known to be highly curable. However, a treatment plan for oral cancer will be patient specific according to your needs and the type and severity of your oral cancer. The key is to identify the oral cancer as early as possible, by visiting your dentist regularly for checkups. Dental checkups are recommended once every six months or more if you are experience pain or other symptoms. Do not wait another day, put your mind at ease now by booking a regular checkup with your dentist and be sure to ask about an oral cancer screening at your next visit.
Please note, this article is not meant to diagnose or replace the opinion or recommendation of a physician or dentist. If you believe you may have oral cancer, please consult your dentist.
Dr. Raul Garcia and Dr. Conchi Sanchez-Garcia are Miami Dentist located at 9301 SW 56th Street in Miami Florida. They offer comprehensive oral cancer screenings as well as the latest in neuromuscular dentistry including treating sleep apnea and TMJ Disorder. If you would like to schedule a consultation with our doctors please contact us at (305) 595-4616 or fill our contact form.