Oral Cavity Cancers – What Is It and Risk Factors

Did you know - April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

One type of cancer we see the most of in our office, and have helped patients treat, are Oral Cavity Cancers. In our office, when a suspicious oral lesion is found, a biopsy is often used to detect or rule out oral cancer — a disease that is treatable if caught early. A biopsy involves removing a very small tissue sample for laboratory analysis.

There are generally three types of tumors that can develop in the oral cavity:

  • Benign Growths
    These are not cancer – they do no spread to other parts of the body or invade other tissues

  • Pre-Cancerous Conditions
    Harmless growths that can turn into cancer overtime

  • Cancer
    These are growths that can spread to other parts of the body and grow into other tissues

While anyone is at risk for oral cancer, there are a few factors that can put individuals at a higher risk. 80% of oral cancer is linked to tobacco use – including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff. The best way to eliminate this risk is to cut out the use of tobacco products completely.

Poor nutrition and oral hygiene practices also can put an individual at a higher risk for oral cancer. Diet wise, be sure to include an ample amount of fruits and vegetables into your everyday diet. Additionally, practicing simple oral health habits such as proper brushing, flossing, and routine cleanings will reduce your risk of oral cancer.

A few other factors are gender, age, and exposure to UV light.

How to Diagnose

Early signs of oral cancer can seem like typical problems – such as a toothache or cold. If symptoms persist for several weeks or months, it is important to see your doctor so that, if oral cancer is present, it may be diagnosed as soon as possible

  • Some of the most common oral cancer symptoms and signs include:

  • Persistent mouth sore that does not heal 

  • Persistent mouth pain

  • A lump or thickening in the cheek

  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth

  • A sore throat or persistent feeling that something is caught in the throat

  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing

  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue

  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth

  • Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly

  • Loosening of the teeth

  • Pain in the teeth or jaw

  • Voice changes

  • A lump in the neck

  • Weight loss

  • Persistent bad breath

If any of these symptoms appear or persist for weeks, your doctor may recommend tests to check for oral cancer. Here at Sharma Oral Surgery – we examine each patient and take a biopsy, if necessary, so we can treat the problem correctly and effectively.

Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns, 704-541-6070.

 

Dental Hygiene and Our Genetics

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Our dental hygiene and the health of our gums seems like a simple part of our dental care. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as two cleanings a year. Patients will often ask, why do I need to do more? Why do I have gum disease? Why am I losing my teeth?

So many factors can affect the health of our gums. Sometimes our own genetics effect our ability to keep our mouth healthy.

Do you know your Biotype? Your Biotype is determined by your genetics. Your Biotype is the best indicator of your ability to resist gum issues. What is a biotype? Your Biotype is a measurement of the thickness and elasticity of your gums. Biotypes are measured as Thin-Medium-Thick. A thin Biotype can be thought of as wrapping a gift in tissue paper, and the gift is your teeth. A medium Biotype can be thought of wrapping with wrapping paper. A thick Biotype can be thought of as wrapping a paper in cotton sheets.

If you know your genetic Biotype, you would know how to hold your gift, which is your dental health. Do you have to care for the gift with the worry that it might tear or can you pack it with your suitcase and know it will be fine?

Next time you are at the dentist, ask your hygienist what your Biotype is and begin to understand how your genetics can dictate what you and your dentist have to do to maintain your dental health.

Facts About Wisdom Teeth

When wisdom teeth removal gets brought up, what generally comes to mind? Getting your wisdom teeth taken out for many young adults has become the norm. Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars develop between 17 and 25 years old. Read a few fun key pieces of information about wisdom teeth. 

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Fun Facts

Wisdom teeth get their nickname because of the time they develop. Today we don't require wisdom teeth in order to survive, which is why we are able to get them removed. Did you know that in 35% of today’s population wisdom teeth don't even appear? There is a lot of history behind wisdom teeth. In-fact it's believed by biological anthropologists that the duty of wisdom teeth was to grind down high fiber foods such as roots, leaves, nuts and meats that were regularly consumed by prehistoric humans as a part of their diet. 

Is It a Must to Get Wisdom Teeth Removed? 

According to AAOMS, also known as the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, it will be necessary for 85% of today’s population to get their wisdom teeth removed. Although you may think there is no urgency or need to get your wisdom teeth removed, there are in-fact several reasons as to why you should. For example: 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth live embedded in your gums. If teeth are unable to emerge properly, they'll eventually be impacted into the jaw. This could result in multiple things like infection, affected bone support, or even the ability for a cyst to form, which is harmful to the roots of your other teeth. 

Partially Erupted Wisdom Teeth
Partially erupted wisdom teeth will make it more difficult to keep the tooth and surrounding teeth properly clean. This can allow bacteria to become trapped, which can cause an oral infection or gum disease. 

Although it's recommended to get your wisdom teeth removed, if your wisdom teeth are healthy, fully erupted, properly cleaned to continue great oral hygiene and are in the correct position, it's okay to live with your wisdom teeth. 

When it's time to get your wisdom teeth removed contact Sharma Oral Surgery located in South Charlotte. Call 704.541.6070 and consult with a professional today; one of our skilled team members will be happy to answer any questions.