Research has shown that cancer begins within the cells, which are the foundation of your body’s tissues. These tissues then make up your organs. Healthy cells can grow and divide to form new cells (whenever needed). When they are damaged or just old, new ones replace them.

However, the process may go wrong. New cells may start to form when they are not needed. Also, damaged ones do not die as they are supposed to. When that happens, there will be a buildup of extra cells, and this mass of tissue is identified as a tumor or growth. When tumors are found in the mouth or throat, they are either benign or malignant. The latter is cancer.

Oral cancer cells are dangerous as they can break away (spread) from the original tumor. When they do, they can enter the patient’s blood or lymph vessels. These vessels branch into all the tissues of one’s body, so you know the damage it can do when these cells attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors. That process is also known as metastasis.

How does oral cancer occur?

oral cancer

Currently, the exact cause of oral cancer is still unclear. However, certain lifestyle factors are known to put someone at risk for this disease. The most common one is tobacco of any kind. Smokeless tobacco, pipes, cigars, and cigarettes are great examples. These things can increase the user’s risk for oral cancer. Studies conducted by the Mouth Cancer Foundation found that up to 90% of patients with oral cancer consume tobacco.

Apart from tobacco (and alcohol), an individual’s eating habits and age can also influence their risk for the disease as well. Research showed that individuals who followed a diet that’s deficient in vegetables and fruits, and were over the age of 40, were exposed to higher risks of contracting the disease. Another thing to note is that excessive sun exposure has also known to cause cancer on the lips.

What are the early signs of oral cancer?

Today, it has been confirmed that oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth. This includes the throat, tongue, lips, sinuses, larynx, pharynx, and salivary glands. And because detecting oral cancer early is crucial to overcoming this disease, it is pertinent that you visit your family dentist in Franklin immediately if any of the following symptoms persist, and are experienced for more than two weeks straight. At Arcadia Dental, we offer caring and thorough general dentistry services, which include oral cancer screening. Some of the symptoms of oral cancer may include:

• Throat constantly feeling hoarse

• A lingering sore throat

• Loose teeth without apparent dental cause

• Difficulty moving tongue or jaw

• Constant earache or pain in ears without any loss of hearing

• Tenderness, pain, or numbness in mouth

• Uncomfortable swellings

• Feeling like there’s something stuck in the throat

• Multiple areas of white or red lesions in mouth

• Worrying thick patches or lumps in or around the mouth or throat

Defining the problem with oral cancer screening

While there is no fixed screening test for oral cancer, these screenings are usually carried out during a routine check-up by a certified dentist or medical professional. The screening sessions often include looking for lesions: areas of abnormal white patches of cells (leukoplakia) and areas of abnormal red patches of cells (erythroplakia). If these lesions are present on the mucous membranes, they may become cancerous.

At Arcadia Dental Franklin, we strongly advise our patients that preventive dental care is not all about keeping your teeth polished and clean, but to help save lives as well. When it comes to battling oral cancer, early detection is vital and quality general dentistry services will help diagnose the disease before it becomes life-threatening. If you plan to undergo comprehensive oral cancer screening, you can count on our highly-experienced dental specialists. With our high-tech digital X-rays and other devices, we are able to detect lesions and tumors that are potentially cancerous.