Lesions of the mucosa (lining) of the mouth are common and diverse, including ulcers, blisters and patches which are of unusual colour or texture.
Many of the lesions of the oral cavity have straightforward innocent causes such as repeated minor trauma. Underlying health conditions such as autoimmune diseases, skin conditions or infections (bacterial, fungal, viral) can be related to such lesions. Oral lesions may be the first signs and symptoms of underlying systemic diseases. Some medications and some recreational drugs can cause oral ulcerations.
Some non-healing mouth ulcers or persistent patches may be more serious. Some white, red or speckled patches or ulcers that persisted for three weeks or longer need thorough investigations as these may be lesions with a tendency to malignant transformation, or may be a mouth cancer. Where a detailed medical history and examination are unable to confirm the harmless nature of a lesion and/or firmly exclude any malignancy, further investigations such as biopsy, X-ray or blood tests may need to be arranged.
Next section: Oral mucosal lesion