What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer, occurs when cancerous cells are found anywhere in the mouth, like the tongue or lips. It can also begin in the gums, the salivary glands, the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, or the floor of the mouth. Regular oral cancer screening will help you catch signs and symptoms early.
The majority of oral cancers arise in the squamous cells, known as squamous cell carcinomas. There are several risk factors for oral cancer, including:
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Gender, as two-thirds of oral cancer patients are men
- Age (typically over 45)
- Poor nutrition
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Radiation exposure
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Drinking maté, a beverage made from a type of holly tree
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
There are several symptoms that may indicate the onset of oral cancer, although many of them could turn out to be harmless or something else entirely. That’s why having an oral cancer screening is important. Contact our Seattle dental office if you notice:
- A sore in your mouth that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
- Excessive pain or tenderness in the mouth
- A red or white patch
- A thick or hard spot, or a lump
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
- Problems chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your mouth the way you normally do
- Persistent pain in the throat
- A feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Pain or ringing in the ears, or sudden hearing trouble
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Our team is not only dedicated to your smile, we’re also dedicated to your overall wellness. We take a holistic approach to your dental care, which includes an oral cancer screening as a part of your regular exam. We’ll typically perform an oral cancer screening once a year. Like many kinds of cancer, oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Fortunately, not every potential symptom turns out to be oral cancer, and not all mouth tumors are cancerous. We have the skills and tools to ensure that early signs and symptoms of oral cancer and precancerous conditions are identified. While these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, it’s very important to visit our Seattle office to rule out the possibility of oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
As with most cancers and other serious medical conditions, prevention can go a long way. A few ways to help prevent the onset of oral cancer include:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Stopping smoking or chewing tobacco as soon as possible
- Limiting UV (sun) exposure
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly
- Eating cancer-preventing foods
- Limiting alcohol intake
Also, make sure you schedule regular dental cleanings and exams, as oral cancer screenings should be performed regularly. Early detection is also a key factor in getting good treatment.
Oral Cancer Screening at Aesthetic Dental Associates
Whether you’re concerned about potential oral cancer symptoms or you’re simply due for your next dental exam, our team at Aesthetic Dental Associates would love to help you get your oral health back on track. Contact us at (206) 682-3888 to schedule an appointment today. We look forward to meeting you!