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 the texture or appearance of the mucosa could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.
The following signs are frequently associated with a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- 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 skin lining the inside of the mouth
- 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. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. Any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for pathology. We recommend performing monthly oral cancer self-examinations and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores; feel free to contact us so we may help.
Furthermore, a variety of cysts and tumors (mostly benign, rarely malignant) can develop within the jaw bones, and may or may not produce symptoms (pain, swelling, etc). This underlines the importance of regular dental check-ups because your dentist can detect early signs of pathology development on dental x-rays and refer you to see an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Drs. Lang, Samouhi and Kim are highly trained in the evaluation and treatment of such lesions and will make your experience less stressful. Proper evaluation will include a clinical examination along with a panoramic x-ray and/or 3D scan.