Oral pathology is the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in and around the mouth. Oral cancer screenings are performed as a part of your semi-annual dental exams. When screening for oral cancer, your dentist will evaluate your lips, inner cheeks, gums, tongue, soft and hard palates, and pharynx for discolorations or tissue abnormalities. In some cases, a biopsy may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. If a diagnosis of oral cancer is confirmed, then an oral pathologist will discuss treatment options and recommendations. In many cases, surgery may be required to remove cancerous tissues.
Did You Know?
Unfortunately, oral cancer is on the rise. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer annually. However, oral cancer is generally treatable when caught early. For this reason, dentists are starting to perform screenings for early signs of oral cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need oral pathology?
Regardless of your age or oral health, it is recommended that you are regularly screened for oral cancer. In most cases, your dentist will simply perform this screening during your semi-annual dental exams. If you receive a confirmed diagnosis of oral cancer, then you will need an oral pathologist to provide you information about the necessary treatments.
Symptoms that could indicate the possibility of oral cancer include:
- Soreness or a feeling something is lodged in the back of the throat
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Change in bite or alignment
- Ear pain
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or vocal changes
- Persistent sores that bleed easily and do not heal
- Problems such as swelling, lumps, bumps, rough spots, thickening, crusts, or eroded areas on soft tissues like lips, gums, or the inside of the cheeks
- Facial, neck, or mouth pain
- Facial, neck, or mouth numbness
- Weight loss
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue and jaw
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is recommended that you make an appointment with your Bradenton dentist to discuss these symptoms and have an oral cancer screening.
How are oral cancer screenings performed?
During an oral cancer screening, your dentist will evaluate the soft tissues in and around your mouth for any discrepancies in color or texture. In some cases, your dentist may also use a special light that causes abnormal tissues to glow. If your dentist suspects something, they may recommend a biopsy for more information.
Are there any risk factors for oral cancer?
While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are a few factors that can increase your risk for developing oral cancer. Some common risk factors associated with oral cancer include alcohol, tobacco, and catching the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).