If you’re like most people, you don’t exactly know what oral pathology is. However, the goal of this article is to open your understanding of this area of specialty and encourage you to seek proper care as needed. Medical professionals frequently specialize in treating conditions involving a specific portion of the body. One of these specialties is in the area of oral pathology. Though patients don’t discuss it much, they need to understand how diseases of the mouth impact their overall health.

What is Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology?

The two terms – oral pathology and maxillofacial pathology – are generally used interchangeably. Both terms refer to the study of diseases of the mouth, oral cavity, and surrounding areas. This discipline can also include any disorder affecting the jaw, salivary glands, throat, as well as facial sinuses and muscles. Dentists frequently provide referrals to oral maxillofacial surgeons, a type of oral pathology specialist. They, in turn, will deal with issues that cannot be effectively treated through the practice of general dentistry.

How is a Diagnosis Determined?

When general dentists discover an oral issue that’s difficult to diagnose, they’ll often refer you to an oral pathology specialist. Oral maxillofacial surgeons are able to provide a clear medical assessment of the oral cavity to determine the correct diagnosis and issue. Generally, oral pathologists do not directly treat conditions, but will properly research and diagnose specific issues. Oral maxillofacial pathologists, however, will provide treatment, depending on their area of specialty.

These highly-skilled oral surgeons will run tests, or order x-rays and other imaging techniques to determine and isolate the problem. This also helps them develop an accurate treatment strategy. Your oral surgeon may order a biopsy to better determine the root cause of the problem depending on your situation.

Once they have properly diagnosed your issue, these oral pathology specialists are able to properly treat your condition. Whether your diagnosis requires surgery, medication, or simple out-patient procedures, OMS specialists, like those of OMSH in Houston, can handle your care needs.

Are There Common Conditions?

There are numerous types of dental and oral conditions that will require professional treatment procedures from a maxillofacial pathology specialist. Common issues that would require oral pathology involvement include various types of oral cancers, ulcers of the mouth, and leukoplakia.

Other, less common, conditions include torus mandibularis, mucocele, gingival hyperplasia, and lingual thyroid, to name a few. As with any condition, you could acquire oral issues through heredity, or through certain habits and behaviors. This includes smoking, using snuff or chewing tobacco, poor oral hygiene, diet, and orally transmitted diseases.

How Will I Know I Need to Seek Expert Care?

Should you ever identify an issue in your mouth that concerns you, it’s crucial to get help right away. You can consult with your local dentist first for a recommendation to an oral pathology specialist. On the other hand, you can connect directly with area specialists like the team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston.

If you notice discolorations, abnormal tissue in your mouth, unusual sores that don’t heal appropriately, and excessive bleeding, act promptly. These warning signs will alert you of something more serious going on in your mouth. Moreover, you will want an expert to investigate these issues right away.

In many cases, when you have your problem treated quickly, the issue is resolved then and there. Furthermore, the benefit of seeking expert care is that treatments may also help prevent other conditions from developing. As always, you should continue good oral hygiene and maintain routine dental care and examinations. As you practice routine oral care, dental practitioners can detect issues early. In other words, you take preventative steps to maintain good oral health.

For more information or to schedule an evaluation, contact Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston at 832-509-4505.