Pathology of the Mouth and Jaws‬

Oral Pathology: Early Detection and Treatment Provide a Better Chance for Cure

When diagnosis of tumors or pathology of the mouth and jaws is done early, the chance for a successful cure is quite possible. All patients should perform an oral cancer self-exam each month. If you are at high risk for oral cancer — smoker, consumer of alcohol, user of smokeless tobacco, or snuff — you should see your general dentist Dr. Moy or Dr. Kahenasa for an annual exam.‬

An oral examination is performed using a bright light and a mirror:‬

  • remove any dentures‬
  • look and feel inside the lips and the front of gums‬
  • tilt head back to inspect and feel the roof of your mouth‬
  • pull the cheek out to see its inside surface as well as the back of the gums‬
  • pull out your tongue and look at all of its surfaces‬
  • feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) in both sides of the neck including under  the lower jaw‬

When performing an oral cancer self-examination, look for the following:‬

  • white patches of the oral tissues — leukoplakia ‬
  • red patches — erythroplakia‬
  • red and white patches — erythroleukoplakia ‬
  • a sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily‬
  • an abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth ‬
  • chronic sore throat or hoarseness‬
  • difficulty in chewing or swallowing‬
  • a mass or lump in the neck ‬

Please see Dr. Moy or Dr. Kahenasa, or your general dentist if you have any of these signs. It is also important to have proper imaging, including x-rays or a CT scan to assure there are no cysts or tumors in the jaw bones.  Once Dr. Moy or Dr. Kahenasa determines that something looks suspicious, a biopsy may be recommended. A biopsy involves the removal of a piece or all of the suspicious tissue, which is then sent to a pathology laboratory for a microscopic examination that will accurately diagnose the problem. The biopsy report not only helps establish a diagnosis, but also enables us to develop a specific plan of treatment.‬

A Word About Oral Care

Keep in mind that your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. Should you discover something, make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery! Please contact Dr. Moy or Dr. Kahenasa using the information on the “Consultation” link for an appointment. ‬