Oral pathology is a specialty in dentistry that deals with identifying and managing diseases that affect the mouth (oral) and maxillofacial (mouth, jaw, and neck) areas.
Diseases such as inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), root canal infection, periodontal disease, mumps, and throat and mouth cancer can be evaluated and treated by an oral pathology Los Angeles specialist.
Changes in the mouth affecting oral pathology can be linked to other diseases. Poor oral health has been proven to contribute to other diseases such as low birth weight in infants, gastrointestinal complications, and heart disease.
Screening for Oral Cancer
Most diseases associated with oral pathology are not life-threatening, except oral cancer. Telltale signs of oral cancer include lumps, lesions, and physical abnormalities.
An oral surgeon or dentist will usually check your mouth for these signs when treating other conditions. If they suspect anything, you’ll be advised to get screening for oral cancer.
Do not be alarmed when advised to get oral cancer screening because it is a proactive way of making sure there are no cancerous cells. Furthermore, discovering oral cancer in early stages is better than finding it in later stages because there is a higher chance of beating it.
A biopsy will be done where a small sample is cut from the affected area and checked for cancerous cell activity. This is the only definitive way to know for sure if you have cancer.
Risk Factors Associated with Oral Cancer
Cancers of the neck and head account for about 5% of recorded cases of malignant growth every year. A number of factors can be attributed to the development of oral cancer.
Chronic use of alcohol and smoking are the most common of these. Tobacco smokers are about four times more likely to die from oral cancer than non smokers.
Others include rough surfaces on teeth, ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene and poor nutrition. Luckily, the mouth is more accessible than other parts of the body, and it is far easier to notice signs of oral cancer in the early stages than other malignant growths.
Signs and symptoms to look out for
Some of the symptoms that can point to oral cancer include erythroplasia (reddish patches inside the mouth), leukoplakia (white patches), recurrent sore throat and/ or hoarseness, sores that easily bleed and do not heal, difficulty in chewing or swallowing and a lump on the inside of the mouth.
These symptoms are not necessarily painful; although any pain in the mouth or neck should warrant a visit to a dentist or an oral pathologist. Basically, the inside of the mouth should be pink without any red or white patches, lesion or lumps.
How to Perform a Self-oral Examination
Oral pathology Los Angeles specialists encourage people to conduct a self-examination to identify any telltale signs of oral disease. Use a flashlight and a mirror during the examination.
If you have any dentures, remove them first. Look at and feel the inside of the lips and front part of the gums. While tilting your head backward, check the roof of the mouth for any abnormalities. Check the insides part of the cheeks, the back of the gums and then check the tongue for any signs.
After this, feel for lumps under your lower jaw and on both sides of the neck. If you notice any inconsistencies, visit your dentist for further examination and a biopsy.