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 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 (erythroplasia) 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 curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We would 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. Please contact us so we may help.
VELscope® is a revolutionary hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-use adjunctive mucosal examination system for the early detection of abnormal tissue. It is based on the direct visualization of tissue fluorescence and the changes in fluorescence that occur when abnormalities are present. The clinician is able to immediately view the different fluorescence responses to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. When used as an adjunctive aid in combination with traditional oral cancer examination procedures, VELscope facilitates the early discovery and visualization of mucosal abnormalities prior to surface exposure that may be, or may lead to oral cancer.
OralCDx’s oral brush biopsy allows dentists to easily and painlessly test common, harmless-looking, unexplained red and white spots that may in fact be pre-cancer or cancer. OralCDx is a system that combines a painless oral brush biopsy, which is taken in the dental office, with advanced computer analysis. The OralCDx oral brush biopsy test was developed precisely to evaluate benign-appearing oral spots, which are routinely observed in the dental office – not those infrequent, highly suspicious lesions that dentists may see only several times a year. The OralCDx is sent to an outside lab for processing, which will generate an additional bill.
Another form of incisional biopsy is referred to as a punch biopsy. In this case, a very small circular blade is pressed down into the suspect area cutting a round border. The doctor then pulls on the center of this area, and with a scalpel or a pair of small tissue scissors snips it free of the surrounding tissue, removing a perfect plug of cells from the sampled area. This is sent to a pathologist for examination. The area where the plug was removed will not bleed much, and heals normally without the need for any stitches. This is usually performed as a definitive test after an abnormal brush biopsy.