What is Oral Pathology?
Oral pathology is the method by which doctors and oral surgeons diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the mouth, lower jaw, head and neck. By checking the inside skin of the mouth — referred to as a mucosa — warning signs of oral diseases can be spotted and lead to treatment. Typically, doctors look for mucosa that is smooth and pink in color. If the skin is abnormal in color or texture, it may indicate disease. If you notice warning signs in your mouth, it is highly recommended that you see your dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible for an oral examination. The early detection of such warning signs can be essential in beginning early oral cancer treatment or any other necessary procedures. Here at Omaha Oral Surgery, our doctors are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of oral and facial diseases, including cancer.
How to Perform a Self-Examination
According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, it is recommended that everyone perform a self-examination for oral cancer once each month.
- Remove dentures.
- Check the inside of the lips and the front of the gums, feeling for any lumps.
- Tilt back your head and examine the roof of your mouth.
- Pull out your cheek to inspect the inside surface as well as the back of your gums.
- Pull out your tongue and check all of the surfaces.
- Feel both sides of your neck and under your lower jaw for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes.
What to Look for During a Self-Examination
- White patches on the oral tissues (leukoplakia)
- Red patches (erythroplakia)
- Red and white patches (erythroleukoplakia)
- Sores that fail to heal and bleed easily
- Abnormal lumps or thickening of the oral tissues
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- A lump or mass in the neck
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
- Using alcohol or tobacco together increases the risk of oral cancer by more than 15 times over the use of one or the other alone.
- Being infected with the sexually transmitted HPV16 virus has been connected to risk of a certain subset of oral cancers.
- Patients over age 40 have a higher prevalence of oral cancer, but the risk for people under age 40 has increased in recent years.
- Extended exposure to the sun or tanning bed use increases the risk of lip cancer.
We're Here to Help
Whether you have questions about oral pathology or anything else, we're here to help. If you're experiencing any of the warning signs above, please schedule an oral examination.
Give us a call at 402.934.8999 or chat us through our live chat where our specialists are happy to help you with any of your oral surgery needs.
Did You Know?
Everyone should perform an oral cancer self-exam each month. All you need is a bright light and a mirror.