Normally, the inside of the mouth is lined with mucosa, a special type of skin that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any change in the appearance of the mucosa could be a warning sign for a pathological process, such as oral cancer. Any of the following may be a sign of the beginning of a cancerous growth or pathologic process:
- Whitish patches (leukoplakia) or reddish patches (erythroplakia) in the mouth
- A thickening or lump on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
- A sore that bleeds easily and/or fails to heal
- Difficulty in swallowing and/or chewing
- An unusual growth on the surface of the tissue or deeper structures
- Chronic hoarseness or sore throat
You may notice these changes on the cheeks, lips, palate, the gum tissue around the teeth and tongue, neck, and/or face. Pain is not always associated with pathology, including oral cancer. However, if you do experience any oral and/or facial pain without an obvious reason or cause, you may be at risk for oral cancer.
We recommend regular dental visits to perform oral cancer screenings as part of a complete oral exam. We also recommend periodically performing an oral cancer self-exam. Remember that the mouth is one of the body’s most important warning systems and can help us detect potential problems before they turn into large issues. Do not ignore suspicious sores or lumps. Please contact Loudoun Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery so we may help.