The inside of the mouth is lined with a type of tissue called mucosa that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any change in this appearance could be a warning sign of a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following signs may indicate the beginning of a pathological process or cancerous lesion:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening on the mucosa lining the inside of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Lumps in the face or neck
These changes can be found on the lips, cheeks, palate, gingiva (gum tissue around the teeth), tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always present with pathology and surprisingly, most oral cancers are painless. However, any patient with facial or oral pain with no obvious cause should see their dentist or oral surgeon.
We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores, please contact us or your dentist so we can help.
As Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, our doctors are experts in the management of all types of pathologic conditions of the oral cavity. Many of these conditions can be treated in the office with simple excision or biopsy. More extensive conditions, such as oral cancer, require a detailed treatment plan, which may include surgical removal, reconstruction, radiation and chemotherapy.