Cancer Prevention at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston


Just as they say the eyes are the window to the soul, the mouth is a window to the rest of the body. Just by looking into a patient’s mouth, an oral surgeon can tell if the patient is drinking enough water, has significant reflux or has a history of bulimia. A few years ago, one of the surgeons at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston (OMSH) saw a woman for a painful mouth ulcer and noticed that her tongue had a blue stripe down the middle. She was referred to an endocrinologist, who diagnosed her with Addison’s disease, which not only explained the ulcers but many of her other health issues.

While most things that are painful or just don’t look right in a person’s mouth are as simple as a trauma from biting the cheek, there are lumps, bumps and color changes that can represent more serious disease processes. One good rule of thumb is that if any red, white, black or ulcerated area persists more than two to three weeks, it should be evaluated by a dental professional. Oral cancer is most successfully treated if caught in the early stages.

Oral and pharyngeal cancer will be diagnosed in 48,250 Americans this year. There are several historical risk factors including male gender, smoking and alcohol abuse. However, there has been more attention recently on its association with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Routine screenings by a trained dental professional are an important tool in the prevention of oral cancer.

For more information, call OMSH at 713-464-2833 or visit www.OMSH.us.