Oral Lesions and The Connection to Oral Cancer

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMDThis month is Oral Cancer Awareness and even though, the majority of us are staying at home, we still have a job to do as your dental office in keeping you informed about oral health. During your visit, I am sure you have noticed that we do an examination of all the tissues in your mouth every time you come in for your regular checkups. When we examine the tissues in your mouth we look for bumps or patches that are a different shape, shade or size that may be abnormal.  Trauma caused by biting or burning our tissue are the most common lesions we see. Most of these are painful and often heal in about 7-14 days. Unfortunately, cancerous lesions or other concerning pathology are not as obvious as trauma would be and more so than not, they are not painful and persist for more than 14 days. We need to closely follow up with lesions in the mouth. They can have a big spectrum of appearance: red, white, patchy, raised, flat, regular or irregular borders, filled with fluid, etc. Chronic exposure to sun, smoking, use of smokeless tobacco put our patients at a higher risk of developing concerning lesions. Most malignant lesions are found at the soft palate (area at the end of the roof of the mouth close to where the throat starts), lower lip (including the border of the lip) and sides of the tongue.  Now, if you find a lesion, always look for the characteristics of it and take note of any changes you observe. Most importantly, let us know as soon as you see anything that may concern you, as close follow up or early treatment is very important.