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What is oral pathology?

Oral pathology is a dental specialization that deals with diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders of the mouth, oral cavity and jaw.

Signs you may need to see an oral pathologist

Many signs of oral diseases or disorders can first be seen during a self-examination at home. If you have been experiencing hoarseness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, a sore throat that won’t go away, excessive bleeding or any other oral abnormality, stand in front of a well-lit mirror and look for the following signs:

  • Clear visible changes in the color of your lips, gums, tongue, palate, cheeks, face or neck
  • Red or white patches or lumps on your gums inside your mouth
  • Open lesions or sores that are not healing
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Growths or cysts

If you notice any of these signs or your symptoms don’t go away, make an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon for an examination.

Diagnosing oral pathology

During an appointment with an oral pathologist they will first examine your mouth and maxillofacial region by sight and then may use a variety of clinical diagnosis techniques including radiography, microscopic viewing or biochemical analysis. In some cases, the oral pathologist may take a biopsy to be analyzed at the lab.

Types of oral pathology

Some of the oral diseases and disorders diagnosed through oral pathology include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Cleft palate or cleft lip
  • Macroglossia (enlarged tongue)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Jaw misalignment

Early detection is key

Early diagnosis of oral disease is very important and one of the primary indicators for successful treatment.