The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of gum (mucosa) that is smooth and pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance or colour 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 (erythroplakia) 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 is not often associated with oral cancer. If you see anything suspicious get a referral from your dentist or GP to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
The bone of the upper and lower jaws could develop cysts and tumors. Most jaw cysts and tumors are benign. However they still need to be removed as they will destroy the bone and teeth if they were left to grow. Generally speaking, they can require one of three treatments. Simple curettage only; simple curettage with some additional measures including long term follow up and finally resection of the bone that holds the cyst/tumor (least likely).