Your oral health is closely connected with your overall health, and diagnosing and detecting oral disease early is an important way to obtain proper treatment for a wide variety of pathology that can cause serious harm down the road.
What is an Oral Pathology Exam?
Generally speaking, an oral pathology exam is something conducted by your dentist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or periodontist, in order to identify, diagnose, investigate, and manage diseases that occur in the mouth, teeth, lips, jaw, cheeks, and parts of your face and neck.
A trained dental professional will examine and evaluate these areas, looking for irregularities, lesions, and other indicators of potential problems that either already exist or could potentially develop in the future. When you come in for regular oral pathology exams, Drs. Silverstein and Parker will examin you in the hopes of detecting disease in the mouth early, before it becomes an even bigger problem, giving you more options for effective treatment.
Common Oral Diseases
Some of the most common oral diseases identified with an exam include:
- Canker Sores
- Gum Disease, Gingivitis, or Periodontitis
- Tooth Decay
- Oral Cancer
Identifying these types of oral disease early can help prevent even bigger problems. For example, leukoplakia is often discovered in tobacco users. Left untreated, it can lead to oral cancer. Gum disease and tooth decay can also be somewhat benign at first, but without proper intervention, they can lead to serious problems, including chronic inflammation, gum recession, and even gums that pull away from the teeth and develop persistent bacterial infections. Frequent infections caused by periodontitis can even exacerbate other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, affecting your overall health.
The Danger of Oral Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, about 35,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, and depending on the location of the cancer and the stage of development, survival rates can be as low as 30 percent. The biggest risk factors for oral cancer are excessive use of tobacco and alcohol, as well as age. The symptoms of oral cancer are often difficult to identify, and patients often mistake them for other oral health problems. With proper oral pathology exams, however, Drs. Silverstein and Parker will be able to detect subtle changes in your mouth that are indicators of cancer.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
In order to detect any disease in the mouth, it’s important to see the dentist regularly. Often the symptoms and indicators are subtle, so if you are visiting at least as often as the recommended six months, the dentist will be able to detect small changes, and identify treatment options early for the best chance of recovery.