What is Oral Pathology?
Oral pathology is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on studying, diagnosing, and treating diseases in and around one's mouth, including the bones, muscles, glands, and skin. Oral pathologists can assist in diagnosing and treating several oral conditions, both benign and malignant, including:
- Salivary problems
- Fungal infections
- Herpes of the mouth
- Canker sores
- Oral cancer
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer develops in or around your oral cavity, including on your tongue, gums, the soft tissues of your mouth, throat, or neck. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 11,000 people died of oral cancer in 2021. The good news is that mouth cancer can largely be prevented by:
- Visiting the dentist every six months for routine exams
- Fungal infections
- Not using tobacco
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Practicing good oral hygiene habits
- Performing self-exams for signs of oral cancer
While oral cancer can affect anyone, certain risk factors make you more likely to experience it. These include:
- Being over 40 years old
- Smoking or using other tobacco products
- Having a family history of oral cancer
- Having an oral HPV infection
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can often develop and progress without any obvious signs or symptoms. Some oral cancer symptoms include:
- Red or white spots
- Sores that won't heal
- A lump or thick patch
- Sore throat or tenderness
- Oral pain or tenderness
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
How Do You Detect Oral Cancer?
It's possible to catch oral cancer by doing regular self-exams of your mouth at home. If you see or feel anything unusual, make an appointment with your regular dentist. Oral cancer symptoms can also be found during your regular dental exam. The dentist will examine and feel your mouth, neck, and throat for unusual signs.
What Happens If I Have Oral Cancer Symptoms?
If you or your dentist discover a sign of oral cancer, they may refer you to an oral pathologist, such as Dr. Kesecker. During your appointment at Legacy Surgery, Dr. Kesecker will perform an oral exam and take a biopsy to confirm if you have oral cancer. If you do, he will create an individualized treatment plan to treat it and manage your symptoms in the smoothest, quickest way possible based on your personal needs.
Oral Pathologist in Harrisonburg, VA
Recognizing oral cancer as soon as you notice an unusual sign can make a big difference in treating it as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. With this in mind, it's essential to regularly examine your mouth for abnormalities, such as red or white spots, and visit the dentist twice a year for routine exams. If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, Dr. Kesecker and his trusted team can help you treat it. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can help you restore the health of your mouth quickly and conveniently.