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Your Trusted Oral Pathology Experts in Houston

Oral exams are routinely performed by our dentists during the course of initial comprehensive exams and regular check-ups. An oral cancer exam refers to the identification and management of diseases pertaining to the maxillofacial and oral regions. The soft tissue of the mouth is normally lined with mucosa, which is a special type of skin that should appear smooth in texture and pink in color. Any alteration of the color or texture of the mucosa may signal the beginning of a pathologic process. These changes may occur on the face, neck, and areas of the mouth (e.g., gums, tongue, lips, etc.). The most serious of these pathologic changes (which may or may not be painful) is oral cancer, but there are also many other common pathologic problems.

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Common Oral Pathological Conditions

In addition to oral cancer, there are several common types of oral pathological diseases:

  • Geographic Tongue: Also known as Benign Migratory Glossitis or Erythema Migrans, geographic tongue is a condition in which the tongue is missing papillae (small bumps) in different areas. With this condition, a map-like appearance can develop. This condition is usually seen as red, well-defined areas on or around the sides of the tongue. These red patches (which can look like an unsightly rash) may come and go from hours to months at a time and cause increased sensitivity to certain substances.
  • Median Palatal Cyst: This cyst is of developmental origin and is essentially a fluid-filled skin sac. It usually appears in the middle of the palate and may cause substantial discomfort.
  • Hairy Tongue: Hairy tongue refers to an overgrowth of bacteria or a yeast infection in the mouth that can cause the tongue to appear hairy and black. This condition is usually a result of poor oral hygiene, chronic or extensive use of antibiotics, or radiation treatments to the head or neck. It is often also seen in HIV-positive patients and those who are intravenous drug users. Hairy tongue may or may not require treatment.

Treatment of Pathological Diseases

In the majority of cases, the pathological changes experienced in the oral region are uncomfortable and disfiguring, but 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 it is impossible for the dentist to decisively diagnose a pathological disease without taking a biopsy sample of the affected area, seeking immediate treatment when changes are first noticed can be a life-and-death decision. For less serious problems, there are several options available, including the following:

Antibiotics: In the case of a bacterial infection or persistent soreness, the dentist may prescribe a dose of antibiotics to return the mucosa to its natural state. This will alleviate soreness and discomfort.

Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide: When poor oral hygiene is causing changes to the soft tissue, the dentist may prescribe a diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash. This will kill more bacteria than regular mouthwash and improve halitosis (bad breath).

Oral Surgery: If the patient has cysts or abnormal non-cancerous growths, the dentist may decide to completely remove them. This can improve comfort levels, alleviate breathing problems, and make speech substantially easier depending on the location of the cyst.

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Oral Examinations

During the course of a regular check-up, your dentist will thoroughly inspect the soft tissue of the mouth and take serious note of any changes. If there are cell changes present, the dentist will take a biopsy of the affected area and send it away to be analyzed by laboratory specialists. When definitive results are obtained, the dentist can decide on the best course of treatment.

Oral Cancer Screenings

An oral cancer screening is usually performed during a comprehensive or recall (check-up) exam. Screening is painless and only takes a few minutes. The dentist or hygienist will use a laser light to assess the soft tissue for cell changes that might be indicative of oral cancer. If such cell changes are present, a small biopsy will be taken and sent to a laboratory for review. If the biopsy indicates that oral cancer is present, an excision (removal) will generally be performed.

Schedule Your Oral Exam in Houston Today

If you believe that you may be suffering from an oral pathological disease, you shouldn’t hesitate to schedule a comprehensive oral exam at our clinic in Houston. Our skilled dental professionals, Dr. Sinada and Dr. Dang, provide thorough exams to diagnose and evaluate a wide variety of pathological conditions. They’ll work with you to curate a personalized treatment plan based on your unique situation, providing whatever treatment is necessary to get your health back on track. To schedule your exam, give our office a call today.

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