Although oral cancer is one of the most important problems Doctor Massoth is looking for when he examines a patient, many diseases unrelated to your mouth may initially present as abnormalities during an oral exam. Many findings such as lumps, bumps, color changes, sores, dry mouth, and changes in your saliva may suggest oral disease as well as other types of health problems.
Normally, the inside of your mouth is covered with a special type of skin called mucosa. It is normally pinkish-red in appearance and is smooth to touch. Any changes in the mucosa’s normal appearance should be evaluated. Any lumps, bumps or "sores" should not be ignored, as they may be a warning sign for a disease process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. Treatment of precancerous areas (early changes which may later change into cancer) is much easier and significantly more successful if caught early. Pain does not always occur with soft tissue diseases and is usually not present with precancerous lesions or oral cancer.
Most suspicious changes in the oral mucosa are initially evaluated with a biopsy. This is usually a very simple procedure that can be done in our office with local anesthesia. Small samples of mucosa are removed and sent for evaluation by a pathologist. Once a diagnosis is known, appropriate treatment can be provided. Fortunately, most biopsies that are performed are not oral cancer. Again, treatment of these lumps, bumps and sores is much easier the earlier they are detected. Finding Suggestive of Oral Cancer or Precanerous Lesions
Small white or reddish patches over the mucosa
A sore that fails to heal
A sore that bleeds easily
Lumps or bumps that do not go away
Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
Difficulty is chewing or swallowing
There are other problems which can be related to your teeth and jaws which are evaluated by clinical exam and X-rays. X-rays are often obtained so that Doctor Massoth can see changes involving the teeth and the surrounding bones. If seen, changes may represent cysts, tumors, infections, or other metabolic diseases.
Many times these areas are first discovered on routine X-rays made at your dentist’s office. Like soft tissue diseases, the earlier Doctor Massoth is aware that a problem may exist, the more predictable any necessary treatment may be.