Oral pathology (also known as oral and maxillofacial pathology) refers to the diseases of the mouth and related structures. These structures include:
- Salivary glands
- Facial muscles
- The skin around the mouth
The inside of the mouth has a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. When the appearance of the skin changes it could be a warning sign of an oral disease. The most serious of these is oral cancer. For example, the following can be signs 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 that you perform oral cancer self-examination monthly to bi-monthly if you have high-risk factors (family history of oral cancer, smoker, alcohol drinker) 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.