Grapevine Dental

Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

December 5, 2022
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Posted By: Grapevine Dental

Today we're providing information about the causes of mouth cancer, the signs and symptoms of it, and the treatment options available. Since the disease usually presents without symptoms, it's vital to have regular dental exams so that your dentist can detect its presence. If you haven't had an oral cancer screening or if it's time to schedule your annual exam and teeth cleaning, then call our Grapevine, TX office and we'll help you.

Which Symptoms Will Alert Me to the Presence of Oral Cancer?

Unfortunately, there are usually no symptoms of oral cancer until the disease has spread. For this reason, we recommend that everyone who is at least 18 gets screened for oral cancer. The screening is painless and non-invasive, your dentist will conduct the screening during your exam. Even though there may not be symptoms in the early stages, if you notice any of the following, you should make a dental appointment without delay:

An area of thickness or irritation in your lips, mouth, or throat

Any sores or ulcers that don't resolve after three weeks

Red or white patches in your mouth

Numbness in your tongue or anywhere else in your mouth

 Although these may not indicate the presence of oral cancer, they are abnormalities that shouldn't be ignored. If you need an appointment, call our Grapevine Dental office and we'll see you as soon as possible.

What Are the Causes of Oral Cancer?

Unless you have a first-degree relative with oral cancer, it's unlikely that you're genetically predisposed to developing it. Usually, oral cancer arises due to lifestyle habits or events, such as:

Alcohol Usage

Those who drink alcohol in excess are more inclined to develop oral cancer than those who drink only moderately or not at all. Alcohol tends to irritate the sensitive tissues in the mouth, although it may not seem like it at the time, which makes the tissues more susceptible to harmful substances like those found in cigarettes. Remember, anything that goes into your mouth will permeate the thin membranes and enter your bloodstream. Once there, it will be transported throughout your body to all your organs.

Excessive alcohol consumption is defined as more than 21 drinks weekly or three drinks daily.

Tobacco Usage

Tobacco usage is the most common predictor of oral cancer. Those who use tobacco in any form – whether it's cigarettes, vaping, chewing, dipping, pipe smoking, or any other form – are considerably more liable to develop oral cancer. Two out of three oral cancer diagnoses have been directly correlated to using tobacco.

Those who drink alcohol, as well as smoke, increase their propensity for oral cancer sixfold over those who do neither.

Demographics

Although alcohol and tobacco usage are factors that can be controlled, not all causes of oral cancer can be. Examples of these are:

Age: Those who are 45 or older are more likely to develop oral cancer

Gender: Men are statistically more likely than women to develop oral cancer

Denture wearers: If you wear dentures that fit poorly and constantly chafe your mouth, you're at a higher risk for developing oral cancer

Diet: A diet lacking in vegetables and fruit increases your risk factor

Previous cancer: If you have previously been diagnosed with head or neck cancer, you're at an increased risk

Sun exposure: Spending a substantial amount of time in direct sunlight increases your risk factor

Radiation: Exposure to radiation increases your risk factor

Specific intimate activities: Certain types of sexual activities have been linked to an increase in oral cancer

Although meeting any of the demographic criteria doesn't guarantee that you'll develop mouth cancer, it may increase your risk, so be sure to get regular dental exams.

What Are the Treatments for Mouth Cancer?

If you develop mouth cancer, your treatment will be unique to you. There's no generic treatment protocol because there are too many variables. Your treatment team will consist of your general dentist and an oncologist and may include an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The treatment protocol may be as simple as removing the cancerous tissue or it may be extensive and require chemotherapy and radiation.

Your treatment team will formulate your plan based on the type of cancer you have, whether it has spread or not, its location, and your overall health. If you think you may have oral cancer, call our Grapevine, Texas office immediately and we'll schedule you as quickly as possible. 

How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is one of the most easily preventable cancers but the incidence of it is increasing, so many people aren't exercising any precautions. To decrease your propensity for developing oral cancer, do the following:

If you smoke, quit

If you drink alcohol immoderately, get help

Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids

Limit your unprotected sun exposure

Ask your dentist to adjust your dentures so they fit properly and be sure to clean them daily

One of the best precautions against oral cancer is regular dental exams. Even if you aren't in one of the risk categories, you can develop oral cancer. No matter the quality of your oral hygiene routine, you won't be able to detect it until it has spread. However, your dentist has years or decades of training and practice in detecting the anomalies that indicate oral cancer, so they can catch it early. Remember, the best treatment is prevention, and the best prevention is early detection. The sooner oral cancer is treated, the better the prognosis.

Need to Schedule an Appointment?

If you need to schedule your annual exam and teeth cleaning, you need an oral cancer screening, or you need any other dental procedure, call Grapevine Dental at 

(817) 481-1813 and we can help you. We're among the best in the area, so give us a call.

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