Evidence shows that older Americans are at risk for greater oral health problems than other groups because of age and the inability to get to a dentist’s office due to an existing medical condition or lack of transportation.
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Oral cancer – represented by red, white or discolored lesions, patches or lumps in or around the mouth – is typically painless in its early stages. As the malignant cancer spreads and destroys healthy oral tissue, the lesions or lumps become more painful. However, oral cancer is sometimes difficult to self-diagnose, so routine dental exams are recommended. See your dentist immediately if you observe: any sore that persists longer than two weeks; a swelling, growth or lump anywhere in or about the mouth or neck; white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips; repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat; difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.
Reviewed: January 2012
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