Unfortunately, oral cancer is much more prominent than a lot of us realize. Here in the USA, around 50,000 people get it each year. And the vast majority of people only realize it much later on, when it’s difficult to treat effectively. The earlier you can detect signs of oral cancer, the better – because then we can get ahead of it and treat it successfully.
Oral cancer occurs when cells in the mouth develop mutations in their DNA that cause various abnormalities. These can start on the lips or in the mouth itself and can rapidly spread if you don’t tackle it early. Like many other cancers, there are large variations in how these cancer cells come up, but some of the common behaviors that can lead to oral cancer include:
Oral cancer can be very serious if you don’t catch it early enough – so it’s something that we should all be aware of as we consider our general mouth health.
In its later stages, oral cancer will show up as a growth or sore in your mouth that just won’t go away. Some of the other symptoms include swelling inside the mouth, unexplained bleeding, unexplained numbness, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and many more. It’s not pleasant, to say the least.
Luckily, there are ways to diagnose oral cancer early before some of these symptoms show up – and that’s with a piece of technology called the Velscope. This handheld device uses natural tissue fluorescence to help dentists identify oral mucosal abnormalities that might be signs of oral cancer. Here at Tenafly Dental, we’ve recently begun using it and have been blown away by the results. It is a game-changer in terms of dentistry technology and will make a big difference in the early detection of oral cancer.