Oral Pathology

The soft tissue of the mouth is normally lined with mucosa, a special type of skin that appear smooth and pink under normal, healthy circumstances. Any alteration of the color or texture of the mucosa may be the sign of a pathologic process in its early stages. These changes may occur on the face, neck, gums, tongue, lips—anywhere in the mouth. The most serious of these pathologic changes is oral cancer, which may or may not be painful. However, there are also many other common pathologic problems that you should be aware of.

Dr. Jones is your prime resource for identifying and determining the best course of care for any oral pathologic issues you may encounter. He offers a wide range of treatment of many odontogenic (tooth related) cysts and tumors, as well as intraoral lesions.

What Happens When Pathology Occurs in the Mouth?

Changes that may indicate a pathologic process can be seen on the lips, cheeks, palate and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Any abnormalities may or may not be painful. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause may also be at risk for oral cancer.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Pathology?

Chronic sore throat or hoarseness: A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily is a sign of something more than an average illness. Ongoing hoarseness also indicates probable pathology.
Difficult/Painful chewing or swallowing: Either or both of these may indicate pathology anywhere in the mouth or throat and may or may not include visible symptoms.
Leukoplakia/Erythroplasia: Whitish/reddish patches in the mouth may be caused by tobacco use, chronic cheek biting or ill-fitting dentures.
Mucocele/Mucus Retention cyst: An obstructed salivary duct can become a cyst, turning a bluish translucent color. Cysts are more common in children and young adults and usually occur on the lower lip.
Geographic Tongue: Also known as Benign Migratory Glossitis or Erythema Migrans, this is a condition where the tongue is missing papillae (small bumps) in different areas. A map-like appearance can develop. This condition is usually seen as red well-defined areas on or around the sides of the tongue. The red patches may come and go from hours to months at a time and cause increased sensitivity to certain substances.

Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Contact our office immediately if you notice suspicious lumps or sores.

What is the First Step in Diagnosis and Treatment?

The pathological changes experienced in the oral region are uncomfortable and disfiguring, but usually not life threatening. However, oral cancer is on the rise (especially among men) and the chances of survival are around 80% if an immediate diagnosis is made.
Oral cancer is a general term used when referring to any type of cancer affecting the tongue, jaw and lower cheek area. Since decisively diagnosing a pathological disease requires a biopsy sample of the affected area, seeking immediate treatment when changes are first noticed might be a life and death decision.

When indicated, Dr. Jones can perform a biopsy of the affected area under local anesthesia.  The tissue specimen will be sent to an Oral Pathologist and a report sent to back to our office. Dr. Jones will go over the results with you and make recommendations for further care, if necessary. There is a wide range of treatments for the broad scope of pathologies and their varied severities.

As always, prevention is the best medicine. We recommend remaining aware of your mouth, in general. Know what is normal for you and what is not. Perform a visual oral cancer self-examination monthly. Please contact us so we may answer any questions and be of assistance.