The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological (disease) process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.
The following conditions can be signs of the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouthA sore that fails to heal and/or bleeds easily
- An ulcer or white dry area on the lower or upper lip
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth or lips
- A noticeable swelling to the face or lower jaw
- Unexplained movement of previously stable teeth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. A variety of lesions associated with dental and non-dental tissues can be found in the oral cavity. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain or painless swellings without an obvious cause or reason should be evaluated.
The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon is especially trained in this very specialized area of pathology and oral medicine. Together with the Oral Pathologist, we can help diagnose and treat all aspects of oral pathology including both soft and hard tissue abnormalities. When necessary, biopsies can be easily and quickly performed, and in most cases, with minimal post-operative discomfort.
We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly, especially if you use tobacco products. Remember that your mouth is frequently the first area that illness can be found. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. When found and treated early, favorable outcomes are probable. Please contact your family dentist or us if you have any concerns.