What is Oral Cancer?
What is Oral Cancer? (Information gleaned from the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute of Craniofacial Research)
Where does oral cancer appear?
Oral cancer can appear in both the mouth and the back of the throat, most commonly in areas of the tongue and gums. It can also appear on the cheeks and other tissues of he mouth.
Who is Most at Risk?
Adults over age 40, predominately men, but anyone with poor oral/dental hygiene, those who consume heavy amounts of alcohol or who smoke tobacco products.
What does oral cancer look like?
Oral cancer can look like a variety of different ailments. It can appear as a white or red patch in the mouth, a sore that doesn't heal, a lump, swelling or numbness in the mouth, cheek or throat. There can be pain in the ear or mouth, cause mobility issues and difficulty swallowing.
Can oral cancer be treated?
Yes! That's the good news. Like many cancers, if caught early, treatment is definitely an option. The best way to detect oral cancers early on is to have regular visits with your dental providers. Oral cancers can spread quickly, so getting in for your regular check-ups is important. Your dentist will usually complete an oral cancer exam whether or not you know it's happening. If you're undergoing orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will watch out for anything out of the ordinary and let you know. If they find something questionable, they may refer you out to a head/neck specialist for further follow-up. If it does end up as a cancer diagnosis, usually surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are all options.
Please don't hesitate to alert one of our doctors or Orthodontic assistants if you have a concern at your next appointment.