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 process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or even of a cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) 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. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain, swelling or numbness without an obvious cause or reason should be fully evaluated, in addition to the soft tissues of the mouth such as mucosa and gingiva. The oral and facial structures contain bone and teeth which make up the hard tissue. Various systemic and local conditions can affect and manifest themselves in the hard tissues. These conditions can sometimes be non symptomatical and require advanced radio graphic evaluation. Our practice has a 3-D imaging capabilities to locate and identify lesions that are often not seen on standard examinations.
We would 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 so we may help. Dr. Krakowiak can help to diagnose and treat most Oral & Maxillofacial and provide you with definitive care only an Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon can.