It doesn’t get much attention, but oral cancers are fairly common. And, fortunately, most can get treated and cured when detected at an early stage. In most cases, oral cancers can be discovered during routine dental visits.
Our team at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants checks for signs of oral cancer during regular periodontal maintenance appointments in Gulfport, Mississippi. However, you shouldn’t wait to schedule a visit if you notice changes in your mouth. The sooner our team can reach a diagnosis — and that could mean having a biopsy — the faster you can receive treatment, if needed.
Spotting the signs of a problem
Not every sore or irritation in the mouth requires a biopsy. However, there are a few situations that typically require this test, such as:
- Pain, ulcers, or sores in the mouth or on the lip that don’t heal
- Recurring infections in one area
- Thickening or lumps in the mouth, cheeks, or lips
- Red or white patches on the tongue, gums, mouth lining, or tonsils
- Problems chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Numbness anywhere in the mouth, tongue, or lip
- Pain or swelling in the jaw, ear, or around the teeth
- Teeth that begin loosening
- Dentures that become uncomfortable or no longer fit properly
- A sore throat or voice changes
- The sensation of something in your throat that won’t go away
It’s important to note that these issues can occur for a variety of reasons, so having any of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you have oral cancer. However, if you notice these symptoms for two weeks or more, it’s time to schedule an appointment with us.
How biopsies work
During a biopsy, we remove a small sample of tissue from the affected area in your mouth.
There are several types of biopsies. Some involve a needle or brush to take small amounts of cells, while others remove the growth entirely, along with surrounding healthy tissue. Either way, a biopsy collects a sample of the suspicious tissue for a pathologist to examine under a microscope.
Depending on the biopsy type and the amount of tissue removed, you may need stitches to close the site. Despite that, you can rest easy knowing you won’t feel any pain during your biopsy. We numb the area or administer general anesthetic to ensure you remain comfortable throughout the entire process.
After your biopsy, you may have some tenderness for a few days and will likely need to avoid brushing the site for a few days. We can provide personalized care instructions on a case-by-case basis.
Once we receive the results from your biopsy, we can outline what to do next.
Have you noticed something suspicious in your mouth or on your lips? Get it looked at by calling 228-868-9615 or requesting an appointment online with Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.