Oral Pathology

Oral pathology is a specialist area of dentistry and combines regular dentistry knowledge with the discipline of pathology in order to deal with the identification, diagnosis, management, and treatment of mouth and jaw disorders, including issues with orofacial skin and oral cancer.

oral pathology

Oral pathologists can diagnose and help with the treatment for a range of different conditions including:

  • Bad breath

  • Canker sores

  • Fungal infections

  • Herpes of the mouth

  • Oral cancer

  • Salivary problems

We are delighted to be able to offer a comprehensive oral pathology service at our Missoula and Hamilton dental office.

Oral Cancer

Studies estimate that around 53,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. The condition will also cause an estimated 9,750 deaths – which is approximately one person per hour every day of the year. One of the reasons why the survival statistics of oral cancer are so poor is because it is often diagnosed late in the condition when treatment is more difficult and less likely to be successful. As with all cancers, the earlier it is detected, the more likely the patient is to have a good outcome from treatment and recover from their condition. More than 90% of cases are treated successfully when oral cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage.

Oral cancer screening forms an integral part of general dental examinations – something that is enabling cases to be detected and treated earlier on. If you attend a regular dental exam and we have any concerns, we may recommend that you undergo diagnostic testing, which could include taking a biopsy of an area of your mouth. Some patients are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, including those who:

  • Smoke

  • Consume excessive amounts of alcohol

  • Are over the age of 40

  • Have an oral HPV infection

  • Have a history of oral cancer

Signs of Oral Cancer

Some of the signs of oral cancer to be aware of include the following:

  • Red or white patches inside the mouth

  • A change in the color of any part of the mouth

  • Persistent sore throat

  • Persistent hoarse voice

  • Any sort of growth within the mouth that doesn’t go away

  • A sore that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal

  • Difficulty using your mouth as you would normally (speaking, eating, moving your tongue)

If you experience any of these symptoms or any other abnormalities that you are concerned about, don’t hesitate to contact our team to arrange for oral cancer screening.

Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is an infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is highly contagious. The condition is characterized by red sores in the mouth that can look like blisters. These sores are quite painful and can appear on the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks, and tongue. However, not only are they painful and unsightly, but patients with oral herpes can even feel unwell with symptoms including muscle aches and a fever.

Since oral herpes can be confused with a number of other infections, our oral pathology team may request various diagnostic tests including blood testing, virus cultures, or biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. We will then be able to advise you on an appropriate treatment plan.

Salivary Problems

Saliva is the watery liquid that is secreted into our mouth by special glands that has a range of important functions including keeping our mouths moist and comfortable, aiding our eating and digestion, fighting germs in our mouths, keeping bad breath at bay, and even protecting our teeth from decay and gum disease. However, problems can arise that affect our saliva production. One of these is the development of salivary gland tumors. These can be malignant or benign and may need to be removed surgically.

To find out more about our oral pathology services or any of the conditions listed here, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at our Missoula, MT, or Hamilton, MT dental offices today.

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