The mouth is a complex structure consisting of hard tissues, such as the teeth and bone, as well as soft tissues, including the mucosa (cheeks, lips, and gums) and the tongue. Although it is rare, there are times when these tissues exhibit abnormal growth and development that can produce lesions or pathology in the oral cavity or surrounding areas. In other situations, certain oral tissues may undergo a change in tissue structure, due to a disease like cancer, and develop irregular growths or lesions. This is why routine dental care, including screenings for oral cancer are so important.
If during the course of a dental checkup or oral cancer screening a suspicious lesion or growth is discovered, patients are often referred to an oral surgeon for further evaluation and care. Abnormal findings on either dental x-rays or during the course of a dental exam prompting this referral may include the presence of an ulceration or a sore that does not heal, or evidence of a bump growing in either the jawbone, the gums, or the neck. The oral surgeon will perform a comprehensive exam on this patient and do a tissue biopsy, as well as order additional studies as needed to confirm the diagnosis.
If an individual on their own notices any suspicious growths, ulcerations, or unusual bumps anywhere in their mouth or in the head and neck region, it is important that they have them promptly evaluated. They should not hesitate to contact the dentist or oral surgeon with any concerns.