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 pathological 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 ex. mucocele, cyst, ranulas
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness and/or 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. 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 can assist you with any questions or concerns.
Mucocele: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
It’s natural to be a little worried when a new lump or bump forms on your body. If you or your child develops a soft swelling in the mouth, it may just be a mucocele — a harmless cyst. It’s still a good idea to get it checked out, though, especially if it’s bothersome.
Where does a mucocele come from? It centers on a small salivary gland, which makes saliva in your mouth. Here’s what happens:
Your saliva moves from a salivary gland through tiny tubes (ducts) into your mouth. One of these ducts can become damaged or blocked. This most often happens if you repeatedly bite or suck on your lower lip or cheek. Getting hit in the face could also disrupt the duct. Remember that “head-on collision” in your pick-up game of basketball last month? Maybe that was the original culprit. What happens once the duct damage is done? Mucus seeps out, pools, becomes walled off, and causes a cyst-like swelling. A similar buildup happens when the duct has become blocked.
Mucoceles often show up on the inside of your lower lips, your gums, the roof of your mouth, or under your tongue. Those on the floor of the mouth are called ranulas. These are rare, but because they are larger, they can cause more problems with speech, chewing, and swallowing.
Mucoceles may have these characteristics:
- Moveable and painless
- Soft, round, dome-shaped
- Pearly or semi-clear surface or bluish in color
- 2 to 10 millimeters in diameter
Mucoceles often go away without treatment. But sometimes they enlarge. Don’t try to open them or treat them yourself.
Removing the gland. A scalpe is used to remove the salivary gland. Local anesthesia numbs the pain.
Helping a new duct to form. Called marsupialization, this technique helps a new duct form and helps saliva leave the salivary gland.