Oral Pathology Services
At Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery oral pathology clinics, we believe thorough examination and accurate diagnoses are essential for properly treating oral and facial issues. Our expert oral surgeons and oral pathologists are highly experienced in oral pathology, the science of diagnosing, studying, and treating disorders of the mouth and jaw. Patients who come to us with certain dental issues, oral health concerns, and jaw problems can benefit from a comprehensive examination to determine the cause of symptoms. Our surgeons can provide a variety of specialized treatments in the hospital-like environment of our office.
Oral Pathology Explained
Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a dental specialty that involves studying and diagnosing mouth and jaw disorders, including issues with orofacial skin.
Some examples of oral abnormalities and diseases are:
- Cleft palate or cleft lip
- Jaw misalignment
- Macroglossia (tongue enlargement)
- Periodontal disease
- Oral ulcers
- Geographic tongue
- Oral cancer
This area of dentistry and pathology covers a large range of complex issues, so patients can benefit from working with the expert oral surgeons at Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.
We know that dental issues, oral health concerns, and unexplained symptoms can be stressful for patients. That’s why our oral pathologists work hard to provide the best possible patient experience, from the initial consultation through surgical recovery. Our office is designed to help patients feel comfortable and relaxed, and we offer a wide variety of anesthetic and sedation options so patients experience minimal pain and maximum relaxation. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care has verified our hospital-grade facility.
Warning Signs of Oral and Maxillofacial Disorders
Because there are so many diseases and abnormalities that fall under the umbrella of oral and maxillofacial pathology, the possible symptoms and warning signs are diverse.
For example, some of the common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Chronic throat soreness or hoarseness
- Sores or lesions inside the mouth
- Red or white patches on the interior cheeks or tongue
- Excessive bleeding of mouth sores
While these visible signs may indicate the existence of oral cancer or another oral disease, scientific review of a biopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis. At Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, our oral pathologists perform a full histopathological review of each of our patient’s biopsies to find and diagnose any abnormalities. Once we know the cause of a patient’s oral health problems, our surgeons can develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
What Conditions Does an Oral Pathologist Treat?
Tooth decay and cavities are among the most common oral issues, but they are not the only conditions that can affect the mouth and surrounding structures. Oral pathology is a wide-ranging dental specialty that includes a wide range of abnormalities and diseases. An oral pathologist is therefore concerned not so much with the teeth as with diagnosis, treatment, and study of disorders of the mouth, jaw, and soft tissues.
To give you a better idea of what oral pathologists do, here are a few examples of conditions that may send you to see an oral and maxillofacial pathologist in our office.
1. Oral Cancer:
Oral cancer is one of the most serious conditions that an oral pathologist may treat. It affects approximately 50,000 people in the United States every year and can occur at the lips and throat in addition to the mouth and tongue. Like other types of cancers, oral cancer can spread, and early detection is often the key to successful treatment.
It may be a dentist or doctor that first notices signs of malignancy in your mouth during an oral cancer screening or routine examination. You should see a dentist or doctor right away if you notice symptoms such as unusual lumps or sores in the mouth, white or red patches on the tongue or interior of the cheeks, or chronic hoarseness of your voice or soreness of your throat. Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor or dentist may refer you to an oral pathologist for treatment.
The good news is that oral cancer is largely preventable. Heavy alcohol consumption and/or smoking are the primary contributing factors. These behaviors can be brought under control.
2. Cleft Palate
This is a congenital condition that occurs when the bony plates at the base of the skull, and sometimes the soft tissues of the upper lip, do not close properly as the baby develops in the womb. Cleft palate is one of the birth defects that occur most often. Some of the risk factors include maternal obesity, diabetes, family history, and exposure to certain substances. A cleft palate can cause difficulties with speech, hearing, and feeding, as well as causing dental problems. Nevertheless, a cleft palate can usually be corrected through surgical intervention.
Macroglossia is the scientific name for an enlarged tongue. Sometimes it is hereditary or the result of an inherited condition, such as Down syndrome or acromegaly. If this is the case, macroglossia may be present from birth. It can also occur later in life as a result of trauma, certain cancers, or acquired conditions like hypothyroidism.
Macroglossia can vary in severity. Mild cases may require only minimal treatment. Rather than trying to correct the tongue enlargement, the patient may require only speech therapy. Treatment for macroglossia depends partly on what is causing it. Treating an underlying condition like hypothyroidism may cause the tongue to reduce in size on its own. Otherwise, it is sometimes necessary to perform surgery to correct problems with chewing, feeding, and speech that can arise from macroglossia.
4. Mouth Ulcers
Mouth ulcers are also known as canker sores. They are small, painful lesions that can develop at several locations inside the mouth. Canker sores can be confused with cold sores (caused by the herpes simplex virus) or oral cancer. However, mouth ulcers are not caused by a virus, like cold sores, nor are they malignant like oral cancer. The cause of canker sores is not known.
Though annoying, most mouth ulcers are harmless and resolve within a couple of weeks. However, some canker sores are major, meaning that they take longer to resolve and may cause scar tissue. If mouth ulcers are causing you problems that interfere with life activities, you may need to see an oral pathologist about possible treatment options and to rule out oral cancer.
These are only a few of the conditions that oral pathology encompasses. If you are experiencing pain or problems in your mouth, contact Summit OMS to request an appointment.
Do you have oral health concerns? Have you noticed pain, bleeding, or other symptoms? If so, contact Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule a consultation with our experienced oral surgeons. You can trust our caring staff and top-of-the-line facility to help you feel relaxed and comfortable throughout the entire process. Get in touch with us today through our online form.