A Simplified Guide to Oral Pathology

A Simplified Guide to Oral Pathology

Jun 04, 2021

Oral pathology is the study, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the oral cavity tissues, including the gums, teeth, bones, glands, skin, and joints around the mouth. A dentist who specializes in oral pathology is known as an oral pathologist. According to the American Dental Education Association, dentists require a minimum of 37 months of advanced training to become oral pathology experts.

If you’re seeking a dental practice that offers oral pathology services in Brookline, MA, please get in touch with Brookline Oral Surgery Group today.

Is Your Mouth Healthy?

Your oral health is interlinked with your overall health. Individuals with compromised or poor oral health are likely to experience other health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Conversely, if you have a healthy mouth, it’s often an indicator that the rest of your body is healthy too. But what are the tell-tale signs of oral well-being?

Key indicators of a healthy mouth include:

  • Healthy teeth. Healthy teeth are cavity-free, aren’t stained or sensitive, and have no chips or cracks on them. Healthy teeth are also not loose, worn, or crooked.
  • Healthy gums. Healthy gums are coral or bright pink and firm to the touch. White, red, swollen, or tender gums usually indicate an underlying problem.
  • No bad breath. Healthy teeth don’t stink. If you have bad breath, then something is wrong.
  • Healthy tongue. A healthy tongue is pink in color and covered in tiny nodules that help you taste. A healthy tongue’s overall surface should be flat, smooth, and clean-looking.
  • Proper bite. If your teeth are misaligned, then you may become predisposed to issues such as temporomandibular disorders, jaw pain, and tooth grinding.

To determine the presence of disease, the oral pathologist examines your oral cavity to check for any worrisome signs. Dental x-rays and scans are used to supplement visual observation techniques.

Types of Oral Diseases

Some of the diseases that commonly affect the oral cavity include:

Oral Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are sores that appear inside the mouth, i.e., on the cheek lining, lips, gums, tongue, and roof of the mouth. Mouth ulcers may be caused by an autoimmune disease, certain foods, stress, nutrient deficiency, hormonal changes, gluten sensitivity, and other factors. Most ulcers heal on their own within several days. However, if an ulcer persists beyond a week, it’s best to get it checked out by an oral pathologist.

Oral Candidiasis/Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a commonly occurring condition caused by the overgrowth and accumulation of the fungus Candida albicans. Candida albicans is an opportunistic organism that lives in your mouth. If the oral ecology changes, the organism may multiply and cause white lesions on the tongue and lining of the cheeks.

Oral Cancer

Oral or mouth cancer refers to any cancer that develops in any part of the mouth. Cancer is an uncontrollable growth and abnormal mutation of cells. Oral cancer may be triggered by excessive smoking, excessive exposure to the sun, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV), and genetic predisposition.

You can lower your risk of mouth cancer by staying away from harmful habits and behaviors that predispose you to this disease and scheduling regular oral cancer screenings.

Other common oral pathologies include:

  • Cold sores. These are brought about by a viral infection.
  • Black hairy tongue. This condition occurs due to defective growth of the nodules or papillae on the tongue.
  • Periodontal or gum disease. Gum disease occurs when plaque and bacteria attack healthy gum tissue, leading to severe inflammation and infection.
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. HSV Type 1 is a highly contagious virus that is spread through saliva. You can contract HSV Type 1 if you share utensils, kiss, or share lip balm with an infected person. HSV Type 1 is characterized by red, painful mouth blisters, a burning sensation around your lips, and in some cases, genital sores.

Seeking Treatment

We recommend seeking oral pathology services if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing.
  • Chronic mouth sores.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Bleeding gums.
  • Lumps in your mouth.
  • Persistent sore throat.

Treatment Options

The oral pathologist performs various tests to arrive at a diagnosis and then prescribes treatment that corresponds to the disease at hand. Treatment options for common oral diseases vary from simple, non-invasive options to surgical alternatives. They include:

  • Deep cleaning (scaling and root planing).
  • Tooth extraction.
  • Personalized periodontal therapies.
  • Surgery (bone grafting, soft tissue grafting).

Schedule Your Appointment

Are you experiencing symptoms consistent with oral disease? Brookline Oral Surgery Group is a trusted, family-friendly dental practice that offers personalized oral pathology services in Brookline, MA. Call now to book an appointment.

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