What is Oral Pathology?
Pathology is the study of disease and a major field in modern medicine and diagnosis. The term pathology itself may incorporate a wide range of bioscience research fields. When you are diagnosed with a pathological condition, it is a condition caused by disease. Physicians practicing pathology are called pathologists. Oral pathology then specifies the study of disease within the mouth.
Often the nature of a disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences are unpredictable. However, pathologists through their expertise can narrow the diagnosis to two or three of the most likely possibilities.
Risk Factors For Oral Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer involving the head and neck region represents only about 5% of all cancers reported each year. The most common cancer is caused by the chronic use of tobacco and/or alcohol. Studies have shown that the death rate from oral cancer is about four times greater for cigarette smokers than that for non-smokers. Other contributing factors for oral cancer may include poor oral hygiene, ill-fitting dentures and/or poor nutrition.
While some conditions can be as simple as an infected tooth or benign growth, other conditions can become life threatening and treatment becomes more urgent.
Since the mouth is so easily accessible, it is our advantage to detect and treat oral cancer more readily than other areas of the body. Drs. Saltz and Wilson complete oral cancer screenings to detect issues in their early stages of development.
What Are The Warning Signs of Oral Pathology?
- Reddish patches (erythroplakia)
- Whitish patches (leukoplakia)
- 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
Although pain may be associated with a pathological condition, pain is not always a sign of oral cancer. If you are experiencing any of the above signs, you should be thoroughly evaluated by Drs. Saltz or Wilson. Your regular dental examinations should also help keep your oral health in check with routine oral examinations and x-rays. During your regular dental exams, if signs are present your general dentist may be able to guide you to the best care possible.