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Our surgeons are specially trained to identify, diagnose and surgically treat pathology of the oral and maxillofacial region. We’re capable of diagnosing various diseases affecting the mouth, jaw, salivary glands, temporomandibular joints, facial muscles, and more. After consultation and exam, our surgeons may recommend a biopsy. This is a surgical procedure involving taking a sample of the affected tissue so that it can be analyzed more closely under a microscope by an Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist.

Common Oral Pathology Diseases We Can Diagnose

Your oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specialists in identifying and diagnosing pathology, including pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions. Early detection and treatment often save lives. Some of the most common oral pathology diseases and abnormalities that we biopsy and treat for our patients include:

  • Oral cancer
  • Cysts of the oral cavity
  • Fungal infections
  • Herpes of the mouth
  • Salivary gland tumors
  • Soft-tissue sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Canker sores and cold sores
  • Oral ulcerations
  • Oral thrush (a yeast infection in the mouth)
  • Aphthous and migratory stomatitis

The Importance of Detecting Oral Cancer Early

Did you know that approximately 36,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society? Unfortunately, nearly 7,000 of them will die from the disease. Oral cancer has a higher death rate because it’s often not caught until it has spread elsewhere in the body. Vigilance on the patient’s part is a significant factor in achieving a positive outcome after an oral cancer diagnosis. If you’re able to spot concerning symptoms early, the disease will respond better to treatment, and it will be less likely to metastasize. Our oral surgeons provide various oral cancer screening services, which may include visual examinations, biopsies, and more to detect oral cancer early enough for our patients to benefit from treatment.

Saving Lives: Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The inside of your oral cavity is lined with a type of tissue known as mucosa, which is generally smooth and pink when it’s healthy. Any of the tissues in the mouth, including the tongue and bone tissue in the jaw, can develop a malignancy. Patients should regularly examine their mouths for problematic spots, as regular self-examination often detects issues far earlier than your oral specialist who is less likely to find something unless they know what to look for specifically. Here are some common warning signs that may indicate a problem:

  • Sores that bleed easily and do not heal in a timely fashion
  • A lump on the tongue or elsewhere on the inside of the mouth
  • Red or white patches that have an unusual appearance and don’t resolve with time
  • Noticeable thickening of the skin found inside your mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • A persistent sore throat or hoarseness

When to See an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms on your tongue, gum tissue, palate, cheeks, lips, face, or neck, be sure to mention them to an oral surgeon or oral pathologist right away. Factors that place you at a higher risk for developing oral cancer include chronic use of tobacco and alcohol, poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, and certain lingering irritations caused by ill-fitting dentures.

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If you do notice a suspicious growth or lesion in any of your oral or maxillofacial areas, one of our oral surgeons can take a sample of the tissue to be biopsied. In cases when growths are determined to be malignant, our oral surgeons can guide you on seeking treatment and work with an oncologist if any advanced surgery is needed to remove the tumor or if reconstructive surgery is required after the cancer is treated.

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