What is Oral Cancer?

Wednesday December 17, 2014 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

When considering dental hygiene and oral health, most people only think about basic concerns like brushing their teeth, braces or teeth whitening. While these basics are crucial to maintaining good oral health, there are serious potential health risks for which most people never prepare. Especially if you participate in high-risk behaviors, stay informed about the potential consequences of poor oral health such as Oral Cancer.

Cancer is defined as an uncontrollable, unwanted growth of cells. Cancer can happen anywhere in the body including the mouth. Oral Cancer manifests as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. It can show up in the lips, tongue, cheeks or other parts of the mouth and face including the chin or the throat. Like many cancers, if not diagnosed early it can be life threatening.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The most common symptoms of Oral Cancer revolve around the swelling or sores mentioned above. Look for eroded areas or swollen, crusty areas on the lips, gums or other areas that are persistent and do not go away. Additionally, you may experience unexplained bleeding, numbness or intense pain. Finally, you may experience difficulty chewing or swallowing.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Though cancer has genetic components, there are significant risk factors that make it more likely to develop oral cancer or other cancers. Unsurprisingly, the most significant risk factors are tobacco users of the smoking or smoke-free variety. Additionally, people with a history of alcohol abuse may experience oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of oral cancer as women and tobacco users are six times more likely to experience this cancer.

What to Do if You’re at Risk for Oral Cancer
If you suspect you have or are at risk for having oral cancer, contact us at Murray Hill Family Dental and make an appointment with an oral health professional. Murray Hill Family Dental uses a revolutionary Oral Cancer screening product called Identafi which specializes in early detection of oral cancer. Identafi is a cutting edge system using different wavelengths of light which explores the structures of the mouth for cancer cells. It is able to provide an 80 to 90% survival rate due to early detection.

The most important fact about Oral Cancer is that there is help to be found. If you are part of the risk groups or have a history of cancer in your family, make an appointment with Murray Hill Family Dental today. Our expert, dedicated professionals can help you with your oral health needs.