Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer is part of a group of cancers usually referred to as head and neck cancers, and can appear as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away.
To prevent oral cancer from spreading too far, it is good to know how to recognize its symptoms. Some of the first signs of oral cancer are swellings, lumps or bumps, rough spots or eroded areas on your lips or inside your mouth. The appearance of white, red, or combined patches in your mouth can be an indication, as well as unexplained bleeding.
You need to pay attention if you are having difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue. Other symptoms include unexplained numbness, pain, or loss of feeling in parts of your face, mouth, or neck. Sores that do not heal within fifteen days need to be checked out immediately. Basically, if there is something that feels different and does not go away after a protracted period, you should see either your dentist or doctor.
Considering the potential seriousness of cancer, this is absolutely the one case where prevention is key. Since cigarettes and chewing tobacco are some of the biggest causes of oral cancer, stopping smoking and chewing tobacco products is a big first step. Drinking alcohol in moderation and eating a well-balanced diet also help in prevention.
Even if you yourself miss the signs that point to oral cancer, your dentist is going to notice and recommend the next steps that need to be taken. Making sure that you see your dentist regularly will greatly increases the chances that this life threatening issue will be caught in time.