Every time we provide care, we're observing many different aspects of your overall health. Most people are surprised at the large amount of surface area that lines the mouth. While this lining repairs itself quickly, it is susceptible to changes that may require monitoring or further evaluation.
Oral cancer can afflict anyone although tobacco users put themselves at significantly higher risk than non-users. Chewing tobacco contains up to 3000 different chemicals, including the same compounds used in pesticides and embalming fluid. Cellular changes below the surface aren't always detectable until they've advanced to a critical stage.
However, early detection and treatment of oral cancer significantly increase the chance of a positive outcome. The American Cancer Society reports that about 7,000 deaths result from oral cancer out of 30,000 cases diagnosed annually. If we suspect any unusual changes in your mouth tissue, we may suggest a biopsy and microscopic analysis by a qualified lab.
Many other non-cancerous changes can occur in your mouth's tissue, from oral warts to autoimmune lesions. We draw on our background in oral pathology to determine if any abnormalities should be removed or simply monitored.
As a side note, we understand tobacco holds powerful addictive powers over many health-conscious people. If you're determined to quit, we want to be a supportive partner in your efforts. Talk to your hygienist, Dr. Grillo, or Dr. Robeck about strategies and resources for kicking the habit.