The health of your oral cavity is often a reflection of your overall health. So, it’s important to take it seriously if you notice something unusual or experience unexplained pain related to your gums, tongue, palate, or lips.
If you or your dentist observe an abnormal appearance in your mouth – such as lumps, sores, or white or red patches – or if you experience a chronic sore throat or difficulty with chewing or swallowing, you should be examined by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
These symptoms are often warning signs for potential oral health problems, the most serious of which is oral cancer. Upon examination, your surgeon might perform a biopsy of the affected tissue to identify or rule out the presence of any sort of oral pathology, including oral cancer.
Who is at risk for oral cancer?
In the United States, one person dies from oral cancer every hour, and virtually everyone is at risk. Those most at risk for developing oral cancer are aged 40 and older with lifestyle risk factors, such as tobacco and/or alcohol use or exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV).
However, many cases occur in people normally not considered at risk – those as young as 18 years old who don’t smoke or have other risk factors. Therefore, it’s important for all of us to be vigilant about watching for symptoms.
Luckily, oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when it is caught early. That’s why the team at Sandhills Oral Surgery & Implant Dentistry performs a thorough oral cancer exam with every patient consultation, regardless of the reason you are visiting. We pay special attention to any potential warning signs and thoroughly follow up if we see anything suspicious. We also teach you how to perform monthly oral cancer self-examinations at home.
Feel free to contact us at our Fayetteville office to set up an appointment or learn more about our team approach to patient care.