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    Oral Cancer

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    Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat), can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

    What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

    The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

    • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
    • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
    • oral cancer
    • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
    • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
    • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
    • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
    • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
    • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
    • Ear pain
    • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
    • Dramatic weight loss

    If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately.

    Who Gets Oral Cancer?

    According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. It's estimated that over 40,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2014.

    Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include:

    • Smoking . Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
    • Smokeless tobacco users. Users of dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
    • Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers.
    • Family history of cancer.
    • Excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age.
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain HPV strains are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)

    It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.

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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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