Oral health contributes significantly to overall health. In many cases, oral pathologies are the first sign of a more serious systemic condition, so their early diagnosis is crucial for patients’ well-being. In this blog, we will explain what an oral pathology screening is and why it is critical to have your smile thoroughly checked on a regular basis.
What is an Oral Pathology Screening?
Oral pathology screenings are routine tests that general dentists usually carry out. During these screening exams, dentists carefully examine the soft tissues of your mouth (lips, the inside of the cheeks, tongue, palate, and gums) to check for red or white patches or canker sores. After that, they also feel your throat and the oral tissues with gloved fingers to look for lumps, thicknesses, or other abnormalities. Sometimes, dentists might also run quick tests with dyes or special lights.
Dentists can find signs of different oral pathologies in screening exams. Many of them are benign, which means that they don’t represent a risk to oral or overall health. However, some pathologies are associated with systemic conditions that can have detrimental effects on patients’ health, and oral cancer is the most serious of them.
If the dentist detects any patch, lump, or thickness that deserves further study, they will program a biopsy of the abnormal tissue. During this procedure, the dentist takes a “sample” of the tissue through different techniques to have it analyzed by an oral pathologist. Biopsies are crucial, as it is impossible to reach an accurate diagnosis without a lab test. Oral pathologists observe the tissues through microscopes, and once they identify the cells found on the sample, they can determine the cause of the abnormality.
Why are They So Important?
Prevention is crucial when it comes to oral pathologies (and any other oral disease). As most of them cannot be prevented, the only measure patients can take to avoid serious health problems is to have their oral cavity frequently checked to identify possible pathologies and get an accurate diagnosis.
Early diagnosis of oral pathologies is crucial for a good prognosis, and in most cases, if they are caught on time, patients can receive treatment and lead a healthy life after the intervention.
How Often Should I Get Oral Pathology Screenings?
There’s no standard answer to this question, but most dentists recommend patients have these screenings at least once a year. Oral screenings are typically carried out during dental check-ups, so as long as you are diligent with your check-up visits, you don’t need to schedule a special appointment for a screening.
However, if you detect any abnormality that doesn’t disappear on its own, we advise you to schedule a consultation to have it checked by our dentists. The most common are:
- Reddish or whitish patches on the inside of your mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily and frequently.
- A lump or thickening on the soft tissues inside the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
It is important to highlight that pain is not often associated with oral cancer or other pathology. However, we also recommend any patient with persistent facial and/or oral pain without an apparent cause or reason visit the office for a consultation.
Have You Visited Your Dentist for Your Yearly Oral Screening Yet?
Our aim at Hill Country Oral Surgery is to diagnose and treat any pathology that can pose a significant risk to your overall health. Please, do not hesitate to contact us and schedule a screening with one of our dentists!