Cancer and Transplant Dental Care

UT Southwestern Medical Center is a recognized leader in the diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer. Our dedication to providing expert and compassionate care makes an important difference in our patients’ treatment and changes their outlook on the future.

Oral Cancer Detection

The mouth and jaw are comprised of many different types of tissue and therefore are more susceptible to abnormal growths than other parts of the body. Fortunately, changes can be easily detected. The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin that is smooth and a coral pink color.

Any alteration in this appearance can indicate a problem, including:

  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
  • Lump or area of thickening
  • Reddish or whitish patches
  • Sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, or neck. Pain does not always occur with these problems and is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.

We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly. If you have any of the above symptoms or you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Oral Cancer Treatment

Treatment for oral cancer often involves surgery and may include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Plastic reconstruction and speech therapy are also available through UT Southwestern for patients who require it following their cancer treatment.

Dental Clearance

We offer dental clearance to patients undergoing heart, lung, kidney-pancreas, or other transplant procedures. Many of the medications transplant patients must take suppress the immune system, which can affect the teeth. Our physicians can conduct the required examination and clear the patient for transplant surgery.

Patients with oral cancer often need dental clearance prior to radiation or chemotherapy treatments. As radiation therapy can sometimes worsen the oral condition, decayed teeth should be evaluated prior to radiation treatment.

Patients with head and neck cancer can also be treated by our ear, nose, and throat and cancer services.