Oral Pathology refers to any diseases that affect the mouth, jaws, and any related structures (such as facial muscles, temporomandibular joints, perioral skin, and salivary glands) in the adjacent areas. Oral pathology can develop in the soft tissue (mucosa) or hard tissue (bone) of the mouth. When you come in for wisdom tooth removal, dental implant placement, or any other oral surgical procedure at Permian Basin Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center, we routinely perform a complete intraoral and extraoral examination at your consultation appointment to screen for oral pathology.
During an oral examination, our oral surgeons will thoroughly examine your mouth and inspect the soft tissue lining (mucosa) of the gums, mouth, tongue, cheeks, lips, and throat, and the upper and lower jaws. Your oral surgeon will be looking for any abnormalities, like lumps, bumps, or ulcers, which may indicate a pathological condition. While many oral pathologies are not serious and are considered benign (non-cancerous), it is always best to receive an early evaluation to address and properly treat any oral irregularities. To avoid missing any serious conditions with severe complications or the need for more extensive surgery, you should make an appointment with Permian Basin Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center to receive an exam.
What kind of oral pathologies should I be aware of?
You have probably heard of (or may have even experienced) some of the most common oral pathologies including strep throat, tonsillitis, or the mumps. Other lesser known pathologies include:
- Cysts or other growths of the jaw
- Oral ulcers, red patch (erythroplasia), or white patch (leukoplakia)
- A bump or thickening of the mucosa inside your mouth
- A lump or bump on your upper or lower jaw bone
- Any swelling associated with an erupted or unerupted tooth
- Intraoral cancer, which may be painless and difficult to detect on your own
While some of these pathologies can be resolved by your general practitioner through antibiotics or vaccinations, an oral surgeon may need to treat more serious cases or conditions.
What is a cyst?
One of the most common oral pathologies is the development of oral cysts. An oral cyst is a benign (non-cancerous) pathologic cavity that is filled with fluid. The cyst usually grows beneath the gum tissue or within the jaw. They are generally classified into two categories
- Odontogenic cysts that are formed from tissues involved in tooth development
- Non-odontogenic cysts that are usually associated with facial tissue development
Many patients experience cyst development near or around impacted wisdom teeth. While cysts in the mouth are generally related to swelling or pain, they are typically slow growing in nature. This means that you may have had a cyst growing without your knowledge for an extended amount of time before showing any symptoms.
Oral cysts can have a dramatic impact on the rest of the healthy teeth. As cysts expand within the gum tissue or jaw bone, the neighboring teeth are at high risk of being pushed out of their established alignment. This occurrence increases the likelihood that additional infection may occur because the teeth will be more difficult to keep clean, and this movement will affect the overall aesthetics of the mouth and smile. Cysts within the jaw can also cause bone or tooth root resorption, which increases the probability that a tooth will become unhealthy and need to be removed. If this condition happens, an additional bone grafting procedure will be necessary to replace the tooth with a prosthesis, such as a dental implant. Oral cysts are a host for numerous long-term problems.
How are oral pathologies diagnosed?
To prevent the occurrence of an oral pathology, it is important to receive regular oral examinations so their presence can be detected. Remember that a lot of oral pathology conditions go undetected and do not prove to be painful or symptomatic; the absence of pain does not mean that a problem does not exist. Your mouth is one of your body’s early warning systems. We recommend a monthly oral self-examination to help you become familiar with your mouth’s structures. If you notice any of the symptoms previously listed or you have a question concerning something that just doesn’t look right with your gums, cheeks, lips, palate, throat, tongue, or neck, please contact our office for a consultation. Some pathologies, such as cysts, can be detected early through X-ray examinations or three-dimensional scans of the mouth and teeth. A biopsy of the affected area may also be necessary for proper diagnosis and development of a personal treatment plan.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in the evaluation and treatment of oral pathology. Our oral surgeons at Permian Basin Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center have extensive experience and specialty training in the diagnosis and treatment of all oral pathologies. Please schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Midland or Odessa, Texas, if you suspect you may be experiencing a pathological condition. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important in the successful management of any oral pathology.