A Quick Look
Oral cancer is exactly what it sounds like; a dreadful disease that affects the various structures that form the mouth. In other circles, it is referred to as mouth cancer. However, no matter what you call it, the symptoms of the disease are universal.
Oral cancer awareness is just as important as regular screening for it, especially as the symptoms can look harmless and even affect an area you may not pay much attention to. In many cases, it may take a visit to the dentist to help people discover the real cause of their issue.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can appear in various forms across different structures of the mouth. Note that the mouth structures that are easily affected by oral cancer are
- The floor of your mouth
- The gums
- Inner linings of the cheeks
- The hard or soft palate
The symptoms of oral cancer can manifest in the following ways.
- Numbness on the lower lip, cheek, neck, and face
- A sore throat that won’t go away
- Stiffness or pain in the jaw
- Inflammation on the lip or in the mouth that won’t go away
- Bleeding from anywhere in the mouth
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Loose teeth or painful gums.
Diagnosis of Oral Cancer
Your dentist is likely the first person to notice if anything is wrong. That’s why it’s necessary to visit the dentist at least twice a year. You can also take advantage of the oral cancer awareness month, April, to undergo screening when most practices offer them for free. When performed routinely, this dental examination can help identify something that’s not right. The dentist may feel for lumps or irregular tissue development in your oral cavity and around your head, face, or neck.
Your dentist may also use special diagnostic tools such as an oral brush biopsy. It is a quick and painless test that analyzes tissue samples for abnormal cells. Some other methods include
- X-rays of the jaw, lungs, or chest
- CT scans of the lungs, neck, throat, or mouth
- PET scans of the lymph nodes
- MRIs of the head and neck
- Endoscopy of the sinuses, nasal passage, windpipe, and down to the trachea.
If you are currently looking for a new dental home for yourself or a loved one, we are here for you. Need to make an appointment? Contact Earwood Dentistry online or at (919) 847-8413 today!