Many lesions can arise in oral mucosa due to chronic mechanical irritation/ trauma either from teeth or dentures. The most common lesions arising due to trauma are tongue/cheek biting, frictional keratosis and chronic traumatic ulcer.
Causes of trauma to oral mucosa
For the development of malignancy, it is usually a long term, repeated, minor injury which can be caused due to a number of causes. This injury can be caused by teeth, dentures or some inherent or acquired disturbances in dental alignment or occlusion.
Sharp or broken teeth,
broken restorations/ tooth fillings,
ill fitting dentures,
loose dentures are the most common causes for such injuries.
Other causes can be a change in occlusion which leads to cheek, lip or tongue bite.
Defective teeth and ill-fitting dentures have been mentioned in relation to oral cancer in various studies. The lesions usually appear in areas of the mouth that are easily injured by teeth or dentures, such as lip, tongue, and buccal mucosa.
What to look out for
The chronic trauma usually creates an ulcerated area which appears yellowish with whitish margins.
Any non healing ulcer (which does not heal in two weeks) should be evaluated to rule out malignancy.
Recurrent oral ulcerations have shown an increased risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma in nonsmokers and nondrinking individuals in studies.
Hence, any long standing ulcer should not be ignored and any broken tooth or loose denture should be restored or corrected.
Regular dental / oral check- ups are important for early identification and correction of any condition which could lead to a cancerous lesion in future.