Oral cancer is one of the most serious conditions that affect the oral cavity. It is characterized by the growth of cancerous cells in the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the lips, tongue, gums or the inner lining of the mouth. Oral cancer screening allows the dentist to determine the presence of such cells, thereby allowing them to provide the right treatment to counter the condition.
Millions of people have fallen prey to oral cancer for as long as one can remember. Early detection is the only foolproof way of ensuring oral cancer doesn't advance to a serious stage that it becomes incurable. We understand the magnitude of such conditions, which is why we give a lot of importance to oral cancer screening.
Causes of oral cancer
In most cases, oral cancer is caused due to chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes, etc. Tobacco contains numerous cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) that affect the tissues they come in contact with. Hence, it is best to avoid such habits to stay clear of oral cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer
White and red sores on the inner lining of the mouth. Most often, there would be a burning sensation when food comes in contact with them.
- Redness and inflammation of the soft tissues.
- Bleeding and release of pus from the gums and other soft tissues.
- A hard lump underneath the inner lining that would pain when pressed.
- A feeling of numbness when you bite and chew food.
- Pain in and around the throat combined with a difficulty in swallowing food.
- Persistent pain in the mouth that wouldn’t go away despite taking medication.
How is oral cancer detected and how can my dentist help?
Your dentist is interested not only in your teeth. He or she checks the general appearance and health of your oral tissues as part of a regular examination and looks for any changes or abnormalities in your mouth, face and neck. Your dentist will not be able to diagnose cancer during an examination. Oral cancer can be diagnosed only with a biopsy, when a sample of tissue in the area is removed and examined under a microscope. However, your dentist can identify suspicious-looking areas or growths that may need further evaluation. The American Dental Association has developed recommendations to help your dentist in checking for signs of oral cancer. If anything unusual appears during your examination, he or she might reexamine you in one or two weeks; it is possible that the questionable spot might heal during that time. Or your dentist may refer you to another dentist or a physician for a second opinion. You and your dentist can talk about your options and what might be causing the abnormality. Together, you can determine the best next step for you.
Call us at (707) 552-4110 for Vallejo, CA, (925) 825-1081 for Concord, CA or schedule an online appointment to have a consultation with Dr. Salaveria at our practice.