Patient Services

Oral Cancer

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Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth or throat. Most oral cancers begin in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth. Anyone can get oral cancer, but the risk is higher if you are male, over age 40, use tobacco or alcohol or have a history of head or neck cancer. Frequent sun exposure is also a risk for lip cancer.

The doctors at Bel Air Dental Care have a unique, hospital-based (Johns Hopkins and Bayview) training background, in which they were exposed to a variety of pathology detection methods and treatments. Every new patient and recall exam includes a thorough head and neck cancer screening. Our team can perform brush and excisional biopsies and we work exclusively with the top Oral Pathologist in the country. If you have a soft or hard tissue lesion of concern, please contact our office immediately for a consult.

Early Detection

During a dental examination, we check your neck and oral tissues for lumps, red or white patches or recurring sore areas. Screening for early changes in the oral tissues can help detect oral cancer at a stage when oral cancer can be more successfully treated. If oral cancer is not found early, tumors may grow deep into local tissues and spread to lymph glands in the head and neck, making successful treatment more difficult.

Since early detection is so important, check your mouth when brushing and flossing. If you notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or any of these signs and symptoms, contact us:

  • A persistent sore or irritation that bleeds easily and does not heal;
  • Color changes such as the development of red and/or white lesions;
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips;
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small eroded area;
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue; or
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer

Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, or pipes), especially combined with heavy alcohol consumption (30 drinks a week or more), is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. In fact, this combination is estimated to be the most likely trigger in about 75% of oral cancer diagnosed in America. Other lifestyle and environmental factors also may increase your risk of developing oral cancer. For example, use of smokeless tobacco products has been linked to oral cancer development and exposure to sunlight for long periods on a regular basis could be a factor in lip cancer development.

In addition to avoiding these risk factors, you may be able to help protect yourself from oral cancer by modifying your diet. Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help prevent the development of precancerous lesions.