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 pathology. The most serious would be oral cancer. The following are signs to look for – if you notice any of these, contact your dentist:
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth
- A sore or ulcer that fails to heal
- 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, or gum tissues around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial or oral pain without an obvious cause should be evaluated. We 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.