The tissue on the inside of your mouth, called mucosa, should be smooth to the touch and a healthy pink in color. As with any other tissue in your body, your mucosa can develop cancerous cells; left untreated, these patches can eventually develop into full-blown cancer. That’s why it’s important to have your mouth regularly screened to detect the presence of any abnormalities and enable you to seek treatment when any issues are still in their early stages.
How Do You Screen for Oral Cancer?
We are able to collect cells from your mucosa in order to evaluate them. To do this, we use a specialized brush. We run the brush across the area to be tested. This collects cells from the surface of the mucosa. Then, we take these cells to a laboratory, where they are analyzed using a highly technical piece of computer equipment.
This process can identify the existence of any problematic cells years before they can actually develop into a cancerous tumor. This enables us to remove the questionable tissue well before it becomes dangerous, saving you the pain, expense, and worry of dealing with cancer in the mucosa years down the road.
What Are Some of the Symptoms of Cancerous Cells?
If you have patches of tissue that are colored differently than the surrounding areas, this could be a sign of trouble. Usually these off-colored patches are whitish or reddish, but they could have other coloring as well.
Another sign that may indicate trouble is the existence of a sore that seems to bleed for no reason and won’t heal even when the area is not being re-injured. This can signal cancer, and if you have a sore like this you should seek the advice of your dental health professional right away.
In addition to discolored patches of tissue, if you have an area of tissue that seems to be of a different consistency—such as skin that is too thick or even lumpy—it may be an indicator that cancerous or pre-cancerous cells are present.
If you have a sore throat that will not go away, or if you are constantly hoarse, you should have your dentist take a look immediately. This may be a sign of some abnormal cell tissue in your throat. Although this may not be dangerous right away, it should be addressed before it can become dangerous.
Finally, if you have developed problems with swallowing your food—or with chewing it correctly—it may indicate trouble. To rule out cancer, you should contact your dentist for a screening.
Let Us Help You!
Here at Southern Arizona Periodontics, we are here to help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful. If you think you may have some of the symptoms of oral cancer, or if you suspect for some reason that there are precancerous growths in your mouth, please let us know. We would be happy to see you in our office for a consultation. Our friendly and helpful staff can work out a time that is convenient and we can answer any of your questions. Just call 520-322-9300 today to get started!