Oral pathology involves the method by which disorders and diseases of the lower jaw, neck, head and mouth are diagnosed and treated by oral surgeons and doctors. At Omaha Oral Surgery & Council Bluffs Oral Surgery, our physicians have an oral pathology specialty. This means they’re trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating many oral and facial diseases — including oral cancers.
If you ever notice any abnormalities in the textures or colors of your mouth, it could be a sign of disease, which means it’s important to see your oral surgeon or dentist for an exam and oral pathology review. The earlier oral diseases are diagnosed, the faster you can begin treatment and get on your way to recovery.
Even if you don’t notice any abnormalities at home, it’s still important to have an oral pathology review and cancer screening once a year. If you’re at a higher risk for oral cancer, then you should have these exams more often.
What Should You Expect From a Professional Oral Exam?
During the exam, you can expect your doctor to:
Do a visual screening — looking inside the mouth and on the tongue for any white patches, red patches or sores in the oral cavity.
Feel the tissues inside your mouth to check for any lumps or anything else that feels abnormal.
Take intraoral pictures of any abnormalities or lesions that are found.
If there are abnormalities, further testing may be done. This testing may include tissue removal, biopsy and other tests for diagnostic purposes.
If you require treatment, treatments will vary depending on the specific type of disease present. Our doctors who have an oral pathology specialty will address your unique needs to ensure your treatment plan offers the best possible results.
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 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.