Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a dental specialty that involves studying and diagnosing mouth and jaw disorders, including issues with orofacial skin.
Some examples of oral abnormalities and diseases are:
- Cleft palate or cleft lip: This is a congenital condition that occurs when the bony plates at the base of the skull, and sometimes the soft tissues of the upper lip, do not close properly as the baby develops in the womb. Cleft palate is one of the birth defects that occur most often. Some of the risk factors include maternal obesity, diabetes, family history, and exposure to certain substances. A cleft palate can cause difficulties with speech, hearing, and feeding, as well as causing dental problems. Nevertheless, a cleft palate can usually be corrected through surgical intervention.
- Jaw misalignment
- Macroglossia (tongue enlargement): Macroglossia is the scientific name for an enlarged tongue. Sometimes it is hereditary or the result of an inherited condition, such as Down syndrome or acromegaly. If this is the case, macroglossia may be present from birth. It can also occur later in life as a result of trauma, certain cancers, or acquired conditions like hypothyroidism. Macroglossia can vary in severity. Mild cases may require only minimal treatment. Rather than trying to correct the tongue enlargement, the patient may require only speech therapy. Treatment for macroglossia depends partly on what is causing it. Treating an underlying condition like hypothyroidism may cause the tongue to reduce in size on its own. Otherwise, it is sometimes necessary to perform surgery to correct problems with chewing, feeding, and speech that can arise from macroglossia.
- Periodontal disease
- Oral ulcers: Mouth ulcers are also known as canker sores. They are small, painful lesions that can develop at several locations inside the mouth. Canker sores can be confused with cold sores (caused by the herpes simplex virus) or oral cancer. However, mouth ulcers are not caused by a virus, like cold sores, nor are they malignant like oral cancer. The cause of canker sores is not known. Though annoying, most mouth ulcers are harmless and resolve within a couple of weeks. However, some canker sores are major, meaning that they take longer to resolve and may cause scar tissue. If mouth ulcers are causing you problems that interfere with life activities, you may need to see an oral pathologist about possible treatment options and to rule out oral cancer. These are only a few of the conditions that oral pathology encompasses. If you are experiencing pain or problems in your mouth, contact Summit OMS to request an appointment.
- Geographic tongue
- Oral cancer: Oral cancer is one of the most serious conditions that an oral pathologist may treat. It affects approximately 50,000 people in the United States every year and can occur at the lips and throat in addition to the mouth and tongue. Like other types of cancers, oral cancer can spread, and early detection is often the key to successful treatment. It may be a dentist or doctor that first notices signs of malignancy in your mouth during an oral cancer screening or routine examination. You should see a dentist or doctor right away if you notice symptoms such as unusual lumps or sores in the mouth, white or red patches on the tongue or interior of the cheeks, or chronic hoarseness of your voice or soreness of your throat. Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor or dentist may refer you to an oral pathologist for treatment. The good news is that oral cancer is largely preventable. Heavy alcohol consumption and/or smoking are the primary contributing factors. These behaviors can be brought under control.
This area of dentistry and pathology covers a large range of complex issues, so patients can benefit from working with the expert oral surgeons in this field.
We know that dental issues, oral health concerns, and unexplained symptoms can be stressful for patients. That’s why our oral pathologists work hard to provide the best possible patient experience, from the initial consultation through surgical recovery. Oral pathologist tend to help patients feel comfortable and relaxed, and we offer a wide variety of anesthetic and sedation options so patients experience minimal pain and maximum relaxation.
Because there are so many diseases and abnormalities that fall under the umbrella of oral and maxillofacial pathology, the possible symptoms and warning signs are diverse.