Garden Grove Dental Arts : Marianna Ibrahim DDS

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An Introduction to Oral Cancer

What causes Oral Cancer

At Garden Grove Primary Dental Care, you’d be surprised by how many patients worry about oral cancer. While most of them are happy to learn that oral cancer is actually quite rare, it’s still important to know the symptoms and understand the risk factors to be sure that any sign of oral cancer is caught early to maximize the treatment’s effectiveness.  So first, before considering any of the following symptoms — consider the risk factors and determine if they apply to you.

Alcohol and/or tobacco use: one of the most widespread causes of oral cancer is and will always be tobacco. Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco of all kinds is inextricably linked to oral cancer. Combined with heavy alcohol use, the two come together to become a major risk factor for oral cancer.

Exposure to the Sun

Just like with skin cancer, oral cancer that originates at the lips can be influenced by excessive exposure to the sun.

HPV

Transmitted diseases like HPV (human papillomavirus), particularly HPV 16, have been known to put patients at risk for oral cancer. While it’s unclear as to why, patients with HPV should be diligent about reporting any irregularities to their dentist’s.

Old age

The risk of oral cancer also happens to increase with age, and is most often found in patients over the age of 40.

But before you worry about oral cancer, keep in mind that these risk factors are broad. Worrying never does you good, and if you experience any symptoms and are prone to any of the above risk factors, simply speak to your dentist. The earlier you catch the first warning signs of oral cancer, the better.

How common is Oral Cancer?

When it comes to the world of “Cancer” oral cancer is relatively uncommon, and is typically only seen in roughly 2% of cancers diagnosed in the united states. Of the population, about 36,000 will be affected — and about 61% receive a prognosis of over 5 years.

The Earliest Warning Signs of Oral Cancer:White or Red Lesions

There are a few early warning signs of oral cancer, and the easiest way to break them down is by color. First are the white lesions — leukoplakia — which are the most common form of lesion. Erythroplakia are less common, and are much more likely to become cancerous. If you have either a red or a white lesion that doesn’t go away, be sure to visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Other Possible Signs and Symptoms:

While a red or white lesion can often be the most obvious sign of oral cancer, there are a few other symptoms to look out for as well. The first of these signs is a thickening mass, or lump, of soft tissue. This can often come accompanied with ear pain, difficulty chewing, numbness in your mouth, and hoarseness.

If symptoms like these last for an extended period of time — typically more than 2 or 3 weeks — it’s best that you visit your dentist for laboratory tests. Many times, in order to make a proper diagnosis, your dentist will often recommend you to a specialist.

Don’t be afraid to ask!

At Primary Dental Care of Garden Grove, teeth and mouths are our specialty. If you ever have a concern about your mouth and its health, or you expect you might be at risk for oral cancer and you live in the Garden Grove area, we can help. Contact us today with any questions you have about your teeth, your mouth, and how it all comes together.

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