Dr Yash performs an oral exam as part of an initial comprehensive exam and during regular check-ups. An oral exam refers to the identification and control of disease in the maxillofacial and oral regions. It is painless and only takes a few minutes.
Normally the soft tissue of the mouth is lined with skin that has a smooth texture and pink color. Any change in the texture or color of this tissue may signal the beginning of a pathologic process. These changes may take place in any area of the mouth (tongue, lips, gums, etc.) as well as the face and neck. They may or may not be painful. The most serious of these changes is oral cancer. If cell changes are detected during the exam, a biopsy of the area will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Other common problems that may be found during an oral exam include:
Geographic tongue: This is also called Benign Migratory Glossitis or Erythema Migrans. It is a condition where the small bumps (papillae) on the tongue are missing in some areas, giving a map-like appearance. It usually shows as red patches on or around the sides of the tongue, looking like a rash. It can come and go, and can cause increased sensitivity to some substances.
Median Palatal Cyst: This is a very rare cyst of developmental origin. It is basically a fluid filled skin sac that appears in the middle of the palate, causing discomfort.
Hairy Tongue: The tongue appears hairy and black due to an overgrowth of bacteria or a yeast infection. It is usually a result of poor hygiene, radiation treatments to the head or neck, or extensive antibiotic use. It is also seen in intravenous drug users and HIV positive patients.
Pathological Disease Treatment
In most cases, pathological changes found in the oral region may be disfiguring and uncomfortable, but they are not life threatening. There are several options in treating the less serious problems found during an oral exam:
Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort and soreness, and to return the tissues to their natural state.
Diluted hydrogen peroxide: When changes to the soft tissue are caused by poor oral hygiene, a diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash may be prescribed. This will destroy more bacteria than traditional mouthwash and remove bad breath.
Oral surgery: If cysts or abnormal non-cancerous growths are found, the dentist may decide to completely remove them. This can help breathing problems, improve speech, and reduce discomfort.
However, oral cancer is very serious and is found with more frequency, especially among men. Oral cancer is a term used to refer to any type of cancer affecting the jaw, tongue, or lower cheek area. A definitive diagnosis of oral cancer depends on biopsy analysis of the tissue. Therefore it is extremely important to seek immediate treatment when changes are first noticed.
If you have any questions about oral pathology, please call or contact our office.