The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.
We would recommend performing oral cancer self-examination monthly and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.
What Is Oral Pathology?
Oral pathology, as a dental specialty, refers to finding, diagnosing, and treating oral diseases. Your mouth often serves as a sort of early warning system and is significantly and profoundly interconnected with your physical health in many ways. Our goal at Hill Country Oral Surgery is to prevent and treat tooth loss, gum disease, and other dental issues in Austin, TX, that pose a significant risk to your physical health.
What Does an Oral Pathologist Do?
Many dentists continue their education to work as specialists in specific fields. Orthodontists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, and oral pathologists all fit into this category. Oral pathologists receive additional training to diagnose, treat, and study oral health concerns that affect the mouth, face, jawbone, and other mouth structures. They use digital imaging equipment and perform biopsies to detect infections and cancer. With our expertise in oral pathology, we are equipped to help to handle more severe dental issues.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening Like?
We perform oral cancer screenings from our Austin, TX, office to detect cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the mouth. The goal is to catch cancer as early as possible. During the screening, we do a visual check of your oral cavity and look for sores or patches of discoloration. We will also touch tissues in your mouth with gloved fingers to make sure there aren’t any growths or abnormal conditions. In some cases, a special dye or screening light may be used to find unhealthy cells.
If Signs of Oral Cancer or Other Dental Diseases are Found, What’s Next?
If signs of mouth cancer or other oral health warning signs are present, we typically schedule a follow-up visit to monitor the area and note any changes between visits. We may also choose to perform a biopsy, in which we’ll remove and analyze a small sample of cells. Once we have the results, we diagnose the condition and begin discussing treatment options.
How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?
There’s some variation among professionals when it comes to recommending how often you should have an oral cancer screening. Most experts agree, however, that you should have an oral cancer screening during routine dental visits or at least once a year by a dentist. You might consult with your dentist about having more frequent cancer screenings if you use tobacco or have other common risk factors. Do not hesitate to contact us if you feel you may be at risk for oral cancer in Austin, TX.
Schedule Your Consultation
Schedule a consultation today to determine your best choices. During a consultation, patients meet with their surgeon and the staff to discuss procedure options in more detail. Patients may ask questions about desired outcome as well as view before and after photos of similar procedures.