In a healthy mouth, the inner lining will be covered with mucosa, a special type of skin that is smooth and pink. When changes to the appearance of the mucosa are noted, this could be a warning sign that something is going on with the pathology of your mouth, and the most serious concern is oral cancer. The following signs may indicate a cancerous growth or other pathological process:
These changes can be detected in the gum tissue, palate, cheeks, lips, face, tongue, or neck. Pain might occur, but isn't always present, especially with oral cancer. However, if you do notice any oral or facial pain without an obvious reason or cause, you could be at risk for developing oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Periodic oral cancer screenings are essential for detecting a problem while it is still treatable. Most dentists will perform an exam of your mouth during a routine dental visit in order to screen for oral cancer, and factors that can increase your risk include:
In addition to looking for changes in the color of the inside of your mouth, your dentist may also feel the tissues of the mouth to check for abnormalities or lumps. If you wear dentures that can be removed, your dentist will likely ask you to take them out to better inspect the tissue located underneath them.
Treating Oral Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with oral cancer, you may need one of many treatment options, including: surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. However, before commencing with the treatment, other oral health issues may need to be addressed. The reason for this is to reduce the likelihood of developing a post-therapeutic complication. Teeth that are in poor health due to cavities and periodontal disease may need to be extracted prior to oral cancer treatment in order to avoid post-radiotherapy surgery. This is essential because post-radiotherapy surgery can impact the blood supply to the jaw bone, and may lead to osteonecrosis, a condition in which the jaw bone loses its ability to repair itself.
We recommend that you perform monthly oral cancer self-exams to look for changes in the color and appearance of the inside of your mouth. Keep in mind that the mouth serves as one of the most important warning systems of the body, so you should always be on the lookout for signs of changes. Never ignore a suspicious sore or lump. If you've noticed a change that you feel could be a sign of a change in your oral pathology, don't hesitate to call us at 503-662-8744. We'll set up a consultation to find out exactly what's going on in your mouth.