Dental Tips Blog

Aug
1

What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

Posted in Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious condition that can often go undiagnosed until it is too late. Early signs of oral cancer are often very small and painless, making them impossible for people to realize that there is anything wrong. Catching abnormal tissue or precancerous tissue as early as possible will help treatment methods to be more effective, with better outcomes. Risk factors can include sun exposure, alcohol or tobacco use, but many cases of oral cancer are found in people with no risk factors at all. Even viruses like HPV is found to be linked with oral cancers.

Abnormal and precancerous tissues can appear as areas that are:

  • White
  • Red
  • Raised or depressed
  • Bilateral (occurring on only one side of the mouth)
  • Have irregular borders
  • Sores that do not heal within 2 weeks
  • Lumps that feel fixed in place
  • Trouble swallowing

Your dentist will conduct a thorough oral cancer screening at every dental check up. If any areas appear abnormal, they will be measured and noted. If necessary, a follow up appointment will be made to assess them for any change. Occasionally a biopsy or tissue sample may be needed, which will be sent to a laboratory for clinical tests.

The earlier tissues can be diagnosed, the better the outlook is for cancer treatments. Regular dental appointments are perhaps the very best way to identify oral cancer concerns before they become too severe. Since appointments usually take place every 6 months, dentists are at an advantage to finding and diagnosing premalignant tissues in their patients’ mouths. Oral cancer screenings may be visual, or they may include advanced screening technology. Whatever method your dentist uses, it’s worth the time. An oral cancer screening is perhaps the very most important part of your dental care routine.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry

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Jan
1

Dreaded Fever Blisters

Posted in Oral Cancer

It never fails. The morning before a big date, the night before a huge presentation, the day before you are going to be on stage – there pops a fever blister. Fever blisters (or Cold Sores) are painful blisters that form on the lips and mouth. Many time these blisters are clusters of sores that have grouped together and will spread if they are popped.

Fever blisters are incredibly contagious, and people should avoid sharing drinks and all contact with the mouth until fully healed. While there is no cure for a fever blister, there are medications that can reduce the amount of time that one will last. Once a person has had a fever blister, the infectious cells will lie dormant until exposure occurs again. For many people, something as simple as over exposure to the sun can bring forth a fever blister. For other people, coming in contact with an infected person will be how they will be infected.

It is almost impossible to predict when a fever blister will pop up, but many people can feel one coming before it is ever noticeable. A sore spot on the lip, a small pimple like bump, or a tingly feeling can all indicate that a fever blister is looming in the future. Many times, if people can catch a fever blister right as it is forming, they can avoid the unsightly sore and associated pain. Products such as Zilactin are over the counter treatments to lessen the life of a cold sore.

About 90% of people world-wide will experience a fever blister in their lifetime. For most people it is an unwelcome, but non-emergency, type of hassle.  However, a cold sore that does not heal can be a sign of oral cancer.  See your doctor or dentist if you have a cold sore that does not go away, if a cold sore becomes infected or if you have a weakened immune system.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry

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Nov
18

Oral Cancer

Posted in Oral Cancer

Your dentist does more than just clean your teeth. As a health care provider, your dentist helps to promote good health in many areas of your life. Oral cancer screening is one way that your dentist looks out for you. With early detection of oral cancer, there is a substantially higher chance for a cure.

During a routine oral exam, your dentist will look over your mouth and inside your cheeks to check for patches of mouth sores. Your dentist will also feel the tissue of your gums and cheeks to check for abnormal lumps. If your dentist finds any abnormalities during the oral exam, it may be recommended that you under go additional tests for oral cancer screening.

There are two special tests that are used in additional oral cancer screening. Rinsing your mouth with a blue dye before another oral exam is very common. Abnormal cells will take up the dye and appear blue. This test is common, but it is not able to distinguish between cancerous cells and noncancerous cells. If rising with the dye presents abnormalities, then a special light can be used to examine the inside of your mouth. The special light will make healthy tissue appear dark while abnormal tissue will appear white.

Both of these screening tests have been able to catch oral cancer at early stages in patients. Many of those patients had no indicators that they had oral cancer. Because of the screening done by dentists, oral cancer can be caught early and treated. Ask your dentist what type of screening is appropriate for you and ways that you can reduce your risk for oral cancer.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry

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