Ocoee Oral Surgery offers our insight into oral pathology from our Cleveland TN practice. We search for warning signs of pathological processes such as oral cancer. It’s important to detect and treat cancerous growth early to improve the prognosis for patients. Diseases can manifest in many ways, including discoloration of the inside of the mouth, chronic sore throat, a lump or thickening inside the mouth, difficulty swallowing, or sores which fail to heal and may bleed easily. In this month’s blog, we take a closer look at oral pathology and our role in helping patients address potential pathological processes in the early stages.

What is Oral Pathology?

Our goal is to identify and manage disease affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions and investigate the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. Oral pathology is a closely allied specialty with oral and maxillofacial surgery.

Oral diseases can include burning mouth/burning tongue syndrome, cicatricial pemphigoid (pronounced “sicuh-tri-shul pem-fuh-goyd”), geographic tongue, hairy/coated tongue, leukoplakia (pronounced “luke-o-plake-ee-ah”), lichen planus (pronounced “lye-kenplan-us”), oral candidiasis, or aphthous ulcerations, according to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.

Symptoms of these conditions can include an abnormal sensation of the lining of the mouth that most patients describe as feeling like their mouth has been scalded, an allergic reaction with blistering around moist mucous membranes, reddened areas on and around the sides of the tongue, painful irritation when drinking hot drinks or tough foods, white patches in the mouth, painful sores appearing as fine white lines on the inside of cheeks, a fungal yeast infection in the lining of the mouth that appears as redness or cracking of the corners of the mouth, or painful lesions that may reappear.

Some are more common than others, and this list is by no means complete.

The Dreaded “C Word”

Oral cancers are usually painless in the initial stages or may appear like an ulcer. The earlier the cancer is found, the better the chances for full recovery.

The majority of cancers of the mouth are carcinomas that form in squamous cells in the head and neck; these can also form in the nasal cavity, nasopharynx, throat, and associated structures. We want to find and treat cancer cells before the tumor can invade adjacent tissues, becoming “invasive” and able to spread to other organs.

oral pathology cleveland TN

Smoking is one of the risk factors for developing cancer and oral pathologies.

Causes of oral cancer include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to sunlight (lip cancer), chewing tobacco, infection with human papillomavirus, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. People with a history of skin cancer need to be especially careful in managing risks. Eating green leafy vegetables may help prevent the development of subsequent squamous cell carcinomas, and multiple studies found that eating raw vegetables, citrus fruits and noncitrus fruits are significantly protective.

What to do if you are worried about Oral Cancer

First, don’t jump to conclusions. These conditions are not necessarily signs of cancer and some may be treated with prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics. Some occur more frequently as we age or among patients with a history of tobacco use.

If you have a suspicious mass or ulcer on the mouth which has been persistent, then you should always get a dentist to look at it. They will typically refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon such as the professionals at Ocoee Oral Surgery, where a biopsy may be taken to diagnose tumors, oral cancer and disorders related to the jawbone, lip, and palate. Such biopsies may be needed for a complete clinical diagnosis.

After all the required diagnostic information has been gathered, we develop the optimal treatment plan for each patient and answer any questions at that time and at any point throughout the course of their care.

If your dentist suspects there’s a chance of oral pathology at work, he or she can contact our oral surgeons by calling (423) 479-8544 or emailing [email protected].

Note: This article is intended as a brief overview of oral pathology and is no substitute for consulting with a medical professional.

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Cleveland TN 37311