What is Oral Pathology?

Did you know that a visit to your dentist or oral surgeon could save your life? During oral examinations, dentists are trained to look for signs of oral cancer. Many times, if a dentist or oral surgeon detects suspicious lesions or growths in the mouth, a sample and analysis of the suspicious area is in order to determine if the lesion is benign or cancerous. This process, by which a sample of tissue is taken and analyzed, is called oral pathology. Suspicious-looking tissues in the mouth or jawbone may also be signs of other conditions unrelated to cancer. As with other medical specialties, early detection and diagnosis is key to maintaining optimal oral health and general well-being. 

During oral examinations, oral surgeons are trained to look for signs of oral cancer. 

When suspicious tissues are initially detected, your oral surgeon will closely examine the area along with taking the appearance of the rest of the oral cavity into account. In addition to a trained eye, oral surgeons also utilize diagnostic technology that can illuminate areas where abnormal cellular formations may be detectable. If your oral surgeon feels that a biopsy of tissue is necessary, a small sample will be taken and closely scrutinized before a diagnosis is made.

In addition to detecting oral conditions, oral pathology is the first step in determining the best treatment and course of action for a patient’s needs. Some conditions, including oral cancer, may require surgery to remove the threat of a condition worsening or spreading to other tissues.

Patients should receive an annual oral examination and discuss their lifestyle habits and family medical history with their dentists. Certain factors including alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and medical conditions such as HPV contribute to the development of oral cancer, bone loss, and periodontal disease.

If your dentist has recommended that you visit an oral surgeon of if you have noticed changes regarding your oral health such as the development of red or white patches or lumps on soft tissues, contact any of our three oral surgery offices to reserve an appointment with an experienced oral surgeon.