Oral PathologyDenver, CO
Regular visits to the dentist can help patients catch signs of pathological conditions that affect oral health early on. Patients should take such issues seriously, as they may worsen over time. Visiting an oral surgeon who provides oral pathology is the only way to know how to address these matters.
At Platte Valley Oral Surgery, we offer solutions for conditions within the science of oral pathology in Denver and the surrounding area. Our team may be able to treat specific dental problems you may have. Call us at 303-997-0220 to make an appointment today.
Understanding Oral Pathology
As recognized by the American Dental Association, the study of oral pathology is an area of specialty dentistry that deals with identifying and managing diseases in the oral and maxillofacial regions. While "oral" refers to the mouth, "maxillofacial" refers to the face and jaws. Surgeons like Dr. Stearns, who are well-versed in studying oral pathology, examine the causes, processes, and treatment of diseases affecting these areas.
When a mouth is healthy and normal, it is lined with smooth, coral pink mucosa. Any deviation from this appearance could be considered a pathological oral condition, with oral cancer being the most severe manifestation. In most cases, early detection of pathological oral conditions maximizes a patient's treatment options.
Signs You May Need to See an Oral Pathology Professional
Pathological oral conditions can be anything that deviates from the normal, healthy state of the mouth, however minor. This can include even relatively minor ailments, such as cold sores. Usually, pathological oral conditions manifest as a legion on or within the soft and hard tissues in the mouth. However, the following can also be symptomatic of a growing issue or cancerous growth in the mouth:
- A lump or thickening on the mucosa
- A sore that bleeds easily and fails to heal
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Feeling like something is caught in the throat
- Redness or whitish patches in the mouth
It is important to note that signs of pathological oral conditions can be either benign or malignant.They are also not always accompanied by pain. Thus, seeing a surgeon is the only way to ensure whether or not any irregularities are cause for concern. The symptoms may be found on the bone (maxilla and mandible), lymph tissue, mucosa, muscle, nerves, and salivary glands.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
As of yet, there are no completely proven methods of prevention. However, certain risk factors may put you at a higher risk of contracting oral cancer. In particular, alcohol use may assist DNA-damaging chemicals in penetrating the lining of the oral cavity and oropharynx. While tobacco use may damage cells in the same areas.
Excessive, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun may cause skin cancer as well as lip cancer. Poorly fitting dentures and other causes of chronic irritation to the mouth's lining may also increase a patient's risk for oral cancer. Patients without enough fruits and vegetables in their diet may lack adequate antioxidants to fight cancer-causing cells.
Finally, male patients and those with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection are at higher risk of contracting oral cancer. Patients who meet any of the above criteria should consult with their doctor about how frequently they should come in for oral cancer screenings.
Oral Cancer Self-Examinations
When it comes to oral cancer, early detection can make all the difference. Often, the symptoms of oral cancer do not manifest until the disease has already begun to spread. The more the disease has progressed, the fewer treatment options a patient has. In addition to yearly dental checkups, monthly oral cancer self-examinations can be crucial to maintaining one's health. Oral cancer self-examinations are quick and easy.
Patients should remove any dental products from the mouth before beginning a self-examination, which will be both visual and tactile. These screenings involve checking for enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and under the jaw, checking the inside of the cheeks and the back gums, checking the tongue (including the sides and underneath), and checking the roof of the mouth.
Patients should look for any red or white patches, sores that are not healing properly after one to two weeks, sores that bleed easily or excessively, and any thickening of skin, tissue, or gums. They should also be on alert for any difficulty maneuvering the jaw during chewing or swallowing, hoarseness, and persistent sore throat. If any irregularities are present, contact our office immediately.
Learn More Today
Matters of oral pathology are pressing and potentially life-threatening. We at Platte Valley Oral Surgery may be able to help. Call us today at 303-997-0220 to schedule an appointment and learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I have oral cancer screenings?
You should see a dentist for a routine checkup at least once a year. However, there is not yet any agreed-upon standard on how frequently you should have oral cancer screenings. Some people may require more frequent examinations than others based on their risk factors.
Are canker sores a pathological oral condition?
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are a common and minor pathological oral condition. Though they can be painful, they tend to heal within a week or two. Professionals do not yet understand what causes canker sores. However, we know that they are neither infectious nor viral. Topical steroid mouth rinses and ointments should be adequate to treat any related discomfort.
Why should I see a surgeon for an oral pathology screening?
You may wonder why you should see a surgeon for an oral pathology screening instead of a dentist. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have additional training that makes them specialists in oral pathology, meaning they have comparatively more knowledge in diagnosing and treating any issues in the region.
How are pathological oral conditions diagnosed?
Again, the answer to this depends on the condition your surgeon is testing you for. In general, however, you may need to undergo X-rays or other imaging techniques, along with various other tests to get the most accurate diagnosis.
Are oral pathology examinations painful?
Most oral pathology examinations are not painful, especially relative to the conditions they may help catch. However, patients with dental anxiety may be pleased to learn that we offer a variety of sedative and anesthetic options for various procedures. We are committed to making your experience as comfortable as possible.
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