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 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.
A wide variety of infections, cysts, tumors and other lesions may occur in the bones or soft tissues of the mouth or face. 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 without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. Dr. Stein, Dr. Caruso and Dr. Levarek are experts in diagnosing and treating these conditions. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help. Drs. Stein, Caruso and Levarek are experts in diagnosing and treating these conditions.
After your surgeon examines you, and depending on the severity of the growth, he may suggest a period of observation or he may suggest that you have the cyst or lesion removed from your mouth. The doctor generally will need to send the specimen out to oral pathology for definitive diagnosis. There are a number of ways that this procedure is done to ensure that it is as painless and successful as possible.
After you are examined the doctor may elect no treatment other than to re-evaluate you in a couple of weeks to determine if the lesion has self-resolved. In some cases the lesion will be removed totally, while in others a small piece will be taken for biopsy. Biopsy specimens are forwarded to an oral pathology specialist for definitive microscopic analysis and diagnosis. Results are generally available in 7 to 10 days. Biopsies are performed most commonly under a local anesthetic. The biopsy site is closed with a few sutures and/or a laser is utilized to cauterize the site. Lasered* areas will have a brownish scab like appearance, which will regain normal color and contour within a short period.