The inside of the mouth is lined by a special type of tissue (known as mucosa) that is pink and smooth. A change in the appearance of the mucosa may be the first sign of an oral lesion. These changes may represent either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) processes. Patients at highest risk for oral cancer are smokers and heavy alcohol users.
Changes which are indicative of an oral lesion include:
- Colour change including reddish or whitish patches
- Texture change of the oral mucosa
- A sore that bleeds or fails to heal
- Throat pain or hoarseness
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Oral lesions may occur anywhere in the mouth, including the tongue, floor of mouth (under the tongue), lips, the roof of the mouth (palate), gums, and throat. If a lesion is present, early assessment and evaluation by an Oral Surgeon with experience treating these lesions are vital.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
- Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking and drinking
- Oral/head & neck cancers can be caused by a viral infection (human papilloma virus-HPV)
- HPV infection is now the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer HPV-induced cancers that typically affect the back of the mouth/throat areas
- HPV-induced cancers most commonly affect non-smoking males ages 35-55 years old. Males are affected 4 to 1 over females
- Cysts and tumours (e.g. Odontogenic Keratocysts; Ameloblastoma) can develop in the jaws associated with the teeth
Cysts and tumours involving the jaws often do not cause symptoms until they are very large and have destroyed large parts of the jaw bone. Another area of concern are lesions that show up as changes on x-rays taken by your dentist at your regular check-up appointments. These changes most commonly appear as either dark (radiolucent) or white (radiopaque) spots on the x-ray. These changes are most often benign, but in very rare situations may represent malignant (Cancerous) changes. Early detection of these cysts and tumours can be achieved with routine dental checkups leading to timely treatment and better outcomes.
Contact Us for More Information About Oral Pathology Today
Our highly-skilled professionals at Willowbrook Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery are here to provide you with all the information you need for good oral health. Please contact us at (604) 532-9686 if you would like to arrange a consultation appointment. At your convenience, you can also stop by our office in Langley.
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