Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, and raising awareness about the causes, detection, and treatment of oral cancer is important. This often-hidden disease can develop without noticeable symptoms, making early detection crucial. Regardless of your oral hygiene practices, oral cancer can grow unnoticed. Regular oral cancer screenings by your dentist are key to identifying potential issues. We recommend that all patients aged 18 and above schedule an oral cancer screening, especially during their annual dental check-up.
The screening process is non-invasive and painless. Your dentist will perform the screening as part of your routine dental examination. Detecting and treating oral cancer in its early stages greatly improves treatment success. In contrast, if the disease has progressed, the treatment can become more complex and invasive. If you haven’t had an oral cancer screening recently, we encourage you to contact our Springfield, MA, office and schedule one. Your oral health is our priority, and regular screenings play a significant role in maintaining it.
What Symptoms Should I Look For?
Mouth cancer often develops without noticeable symptoms, making it difficult to detect. However, if you observe any of the following conditions, it’s important to contact our office promptly to schedule an appointment:
- An ulcer or sore that doesn’t heal within three weeks.
- Any area of tissue that resembles scar tissue or an abnormal growth.
- Unusual lumps or swellings in the head, mouth, or neck.
- Patches of red and white tissue in the mouth.
While these signs could be related to other conditions, they are anomalies that require attention. Your dentist will conduct further diagnostic examinations if there are any concerns. It’s better to have these conditions checked, even if they are caused by something else, rather than ignore them when they might require attention.
Your oral health matters and prompt action can make a significant difference. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with our office. Your well-being is our priority.
Are There Causes of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can sometimes have a genetic component, especially if a first-degree relative, such as a parent, child, or sibling, has had it. However, in most cases, oral cancer is attributed to lifestyle habits, and its cause is occasionally unclear.
People who engage in excessive alcohol consumption and use tobacco products are at a significantly higher risk of developing mouth cancer than those who don’t. Excessive alcohol consumption is having 21 or more alcoholic drinks per week or three or more daily. Alcohol can irritate the delicate linings of the cheeks, making them more susceptible to absorbing toxins from substances like tobacco.
Using any form of tobacco, whether smoking cigarettes, using smokeless tobacco, vaping, or using a pipe, substantially increases the risk of oral cancer. The trouble is even higher for individuals who both smoke and drink alcohol.
A diet lacking in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids increases the risk of oral cancer. To lower your risk factors, consider improving the quality of your diet. Staying well-hydrated is also crucial for the body to eliminate toxins. Drinking plain water is the best way to maintain hydration.
Certain intimate activities have been linked to the development of oral cancer due to the HPV virus. Practicing safe sex and protecting yourself can help reduce this risk.
Taking steps to modify these risk factors can contribute to your overall oral health and well-being. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office for guidance and support.
How Will My Dentist Diagnose Oral Cancer?
During your dental exam, your dentist will carefully examine your face, neck, lips, and the inside of your mouth. This physical examination is intended to detect any unusual lumps or growths that may be present. If your dentist notices any abnormalities, they may take a tissue sample, also known as a biopsy, to further evaluate the area.
The process of palpating or feeling the tissues is painless and non-invasive. It is an essential step in identifying any potential issues early on. Detecting any unusual lumps or growths early can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment and a positive outcome. This is why it’s recommended for individuals at least 18 years old to have regular oral cancer screenings as part of their dental care routine.
If you’re due for an oral cancer screening or have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our Springfield, MA, office. Our team is here to assist you and ensure your oral health is well managed. Give us a call, and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment for you.
How Is Oral Cancer Treated?
Every individual’s treatment plan for oral cancer is tailored to their specific situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach due to the numerous variables involved. The course of treatment will be determined based on factors such as the size and location of the cancer, whether it has spread, and your overall health condition.
Depending on the complexity of the case, your treatment team will consist of various healthcare professionals, including your general dentist, an oncologist, and potentially a maxillofacial oral surgeon. The treatment options can vary from relatively simple procedures to more intricate interventions involving radiation and chemotherapy.
During your consultation with the treatment team, they will thoroughly explain your options and address any questions or concerns you may have. Advances in medical technology have led to targeted therapy, a more precise treatment that specifically targets cancer cells. Be sure to inquire about this innovative approach when discussing your treatment plan with your dentist.
Having an open and thorough conversation with your treatment team is essential to fully understand the recommended approach and make informed decisions about your oral cancer treatment.
Can Oral Cancer Be Prevented?
Preventing oral cancer largely involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits, although it cannot guarantee complete immunity. While certain factors like age and gender are beyond your control, taking charge of modifiable factors can significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Here are some steps you can take:
Quit using tobacco products to eliminate a major risk factor. If you drink excessively, seek professional assistance to develop healthier social and coping skills. Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, and ensure you stay adequately hydrated. Use safe behaviors and protection to reduce the risk of exposure to certain viruses. Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings, ideally every six months. If you’re 18 or older, undergo an annual oral cancer screening as a preventive measure. During your regular oral hygiene routine, notice unusual changes inside your mouth. If you see anything abnormal, contact your Springfield dentist promptly for further evaluation.
Taking proactive steps to minimize risk factors and staying vigilant about your oral health can significantly decrease your chances of developing oral cancer.
Need an Appointment?
To schedule an appointment for an oral cancer screening, annual exam, teeth cleaning, or any other dental procedure, please contact Gorgeous Smiles Dental at 413-747-0400. We are here to assist you.
Make the most of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month to prioritize oral health. Remember, your oral health is closely connected to your overall well-being, so taking care of your mouth also benefits your entire body.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We are eager to talk with you and address your dental needs.
At our dental practice, we prioritize compassion and empathy toward our patients. Please read our blog and articles for tips on maintaining oral health and learn more about our commitment to providing exceptional dental care with a personal touch.