Oral / Maxillofacial Pathology

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.

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. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been shown to be a link to some oral/pharygeal cancers. Younger male and female patients should talk to their pediatricians or primary care physicians to discuss vaccination against certain types of HPV.

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. See your dentist regularly and request an oral cancer screening. Please contact us so we may help if needed.

Pathologic condtions of the facial skeleton and jaws can occur also. If you have unexplained swelling, drainage, numbness or lumps that are particularly one sided and do not resolve within 2 weeks, you should be examined to rule out a potential pathologic condition. In these cases additional imaging with x-ray, CT scan or MRI may be required for evaluation.

Lastly, if you have facial or neck skin lesions that are ulcerated, crusted, persistent in bleeding, dark in color and/or irregular, or a mass that is present for more than two weeks, they should be evaluated for possible biopsy if warranted. Concerns here would be basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms above, please contact our office for an evaluation.