Often times, oral conditions are defined by their descriptive characteristics and color. A brownish, bluish, or black lesion in the mouth are such conditions and will be further categorized by their appearance. Lesions that display well-defined borders will be grouped separately from lesions that appear to be diffuse or have undefined borders. Although these lesions can often represent harmless or benign conditions, they may also resemble cancerous lesions that would require oral surgery or other treatments.
It would seem that a normal, healthy mouth would be lined with pink or red soft tissues. What would cause the tissues inside of your mouth to appear brown, blue, or black? The cause of the discoloration could be exogenous (from outside sources such as commercial dyes, stains, or heavy metals) or endogenous (such as increased melanin, distended veins, certain metals, or the pooling of fluids under the surface of the tissue).
Tobacco smoke has been found to increase the production of melanin and the tar and nicotine can contribute to black hairy tongue, both resulting in significantly darkened tissues. The administration of certain medications as well as Addison’s disease and a spreading variety of melanoma can also result in discoloration. Where silver fillings have been used to restore the teeth, an amalgam tattoo describes the discoloration that might occur.
Fluid-filled lesions such as a mucoceles might appear bluish in nature, often appear on the lower lip, and tends to represent a damaged or blocked salivary gland.
A melanoma is a cancerous tumor that can easily be mistaken for any of the previously mentioned conditions. However, this form of cancer is responsible for thousands of deaths each year, most occurring in male patients. For male and female patients in the 40-50 year old age group, the risk increases, although there has been a rising incidence of melanoma in female patients under the age of 40. Once the lesion has been identified and confirmed with a biopsy, it may be removed in an oral surgery procedure and may also be treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy if necessary.
Find out more about discolorations and oral lesions by contacting the ORA office of Dr. Steven Koos DDS, MD today.