Depending on your case, your doctor may send you to a specialist in oral pathology for an examination or diagnosis. An oral pathologist is someone who specializes in the identification and management of diseases that affect your mouth. An oral pathologist will also investigate the cause, effect, and processes of any oral disease that you might have. These specialists have received extensive training in diseases of the head, neck, and mouth.
Common conditions that may be diagnosed and treated by an oral pathologist include:
- Benign cysts and tumors of the jawbone
- Benign tumors of the salivary glands
- Ulcerations in the oral cavity that won’t heal properly
- Red and white lesions of the mouth
- Malignant salivary gland tumors
- Skin cancer
These conditions may not be limited to the oral cavity. Oral pathologists are also trained to investigate diseases that have spread to other areas of the head and neck, as well.
Symptoms of an Oral Disease
The common signs and symptoms of an oral or maxillofacial disease can vary, depending on what condition you have. Many of these symptoms can be painful and should be reported right away in order to prevent infection or further damage to the surrounding area. Some symptoms of oral disease include:
- Changes in the appearance of the gums (Your gums should appear smooth, pink, and healthy. If you notice any changes from this appearance, you should notify your doctor.)
- Red and white patches in your mouth
- Lesions or sores that fail to heal and bleed easily
- Difficulty when chewing or swallowing
- Constant raspy or sore throat
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, it is important that you let your dentist or general practitioner know as soon as possible so that a referral can be made. Check your mouth regularly and report any sudden changes to your doctor, as this could indicate a serious condition.
What to Expect
During a visit to your oral pathologist, you will be asked a number of questions about your medical and dental history. It is important to answer as truthfully and completely as possible so that your oral pathologist has the necessary information to make a proper diagnosis. You will also receive an extensive physical exam, focusing on the area of concern. If a lesion is present, a biopsy will likely be recommended, which can include taking all or part of the lesion. This will help the pathologist to make an accurate diagnosis.
If you have undergone a procedure to treat either a malignant or benign lesion, your oral pathologist can also help recommend reconstructive procedures that will restore the normal function of your mouth, as well as your quality of life. This may include procedures such as bone and soft tissue grafting, as well as a recommendation for oral prosthetic devices. In some cases, this can even include nose, ear, and eye prosthetic reconstruction.
For more information about oral pathology in Redondo Beach, California, and to set up an appointment with Dr. Trent Westernoff or Dr. Martin Mardirosian, we welcome you to call Oral Surgery Partners today at 310-375-0514. We are dedicated to helping you achieve excellent oral health!