The term oral pathology refers to the development of an abnormal condition or disease in the mouth, jaw or related structures. Although most pathology does not indicate a serious problem when diagnosed and treated, extreme cases may indicate or lead to malignancy.
This year, more than 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Malignancy can be especially deadly if diagnosis and treatment occur too late. Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to ensure your ongoing health and well-being and reduce your risk factors for pathology.
Understanding Oral Pathology
When healthy, the mucosa tissue lining of the mouth has a smooth texture and light pink color. Any changes to this appearance that persist more than two weeks can indicate the presence of pathology.
Although not all (or even most) pathological processes lead to malignancy, they are a reliable indicator of a problem of some kind.
Affected areas may include the gums, cheeks, tongue, hard or soft palate, lips or throat. Any indication of pathological changes requires evaluation by an oral surgeon who can perform appropriate diagnostic tests and, if necessary, begin treatment.
Oral Pathology Symptoms
Not all pathological processes present with obvious symptoms. However, if you notice any unexplained reddish or whitish patches, lumps or thickening of the mucosa, contact our office as soon as possible to schedule an evaluation.
Another possible cause for concern is mouth sores that persist for two weeks or longer or that bleed easily. A persistent sore throat or chronic hoarseness may also indicate a pathological process in the oral cavity.
Lumps of any type should always prompt a doctor visit. If you notice a lump in your mouth, throat or neck, come in so one of our maxillofacial surgeons can take a look. Finally, if you have trouble chewing or swallowing, schedule an appointment promptly.
Fortunately, if pathology is diagnosed and treated during the early stages, the prognosis is generally good, even in the case of malignancy.
Pathology and Oral Cancer in Richmond, Indiana
Minimizing your risk factors for oral cancer and performing monthly self-checks are the best ways to avoid complications related to the pathological process.
Avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol consumption significantly help to reduce your risk of oral cancer. Practice good dental hygiene and schedule regular dental checkups, and you will reduce your risk even further.
Contact Richmond Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery LLC to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with one of our surgeons. We can help you understand your risk factors and teach you how to perform a monthly self-check of your mouth, tongue, lips and gums.
We are committed to helping you and your family enjoy a lifetime of oral health. Contact us today to learn more about minimizing your risk factors for oral pathology.