What is Oral Pathology and How Can You Spot It?

While most people are familiar with the concept of oral health, they may not know the meaning of the term oral pathology. What is “oral pathology”? In essence, it is the opposite of oral health.

Oral pathology, or more fully “oral and maxillofacial pathology,” is any disease, abnormality or injury to the oral cavity.

This includes teeth, gums, lips, mucosa (inner lining of the mouth), perioral skin (skin surrounding the mouth), tongue, salivary glands, jaws or facial muscles/joints — that is, the entire mouth, along with adjacent areas of the head and neck.

oral pathology

What Do Oral Pathologists Do?

An oral pathologist is a dental professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating all the various medical/dental disorders that affect the mouth.

As the mouth is a complex organ with many important functions, it is not surprising that oral pathologists are trained to deal with a host of disorders, including such things as Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis), psoriasis (skin disease), over-/undersized teeth, impacted/embedded teeth, periodontal disease, degeneration of the tempromandibular joint, bacterial and fungal infections, congenital lip pits, cysts/benign tumors and cancer of the mouth.

By catching developing oral problems early, oral pathologists make treatment as simple and effective as possible and prevent oral diseases from impacting other areas of the body.

What Are the Signs of Oral Pathology?

As the mouth is a readily accessible organ, it is usually easy to spot symptoms of oral pathology in your own mouth. Identifying the exact problem may require a visit to an oral pathologist, who may even need to take a biopsy sample, but there are general signs you can look for on your own that may indicate an oral pathological condition exists.

Signs of oral pathology to look for during a self-examination include the following:

  • Any visible changes in the color/appearance of lips, cheeks, palate, tongue, periodontal tissue, face or neck
  • Red or white patches or lumps; a healthy mouth will have a smooth, pink mucosa lining
  • Open sores or lesions that do not heal and/or bleed on occasion
  • Inflamed, sore or bleeding gums; also look for receding gum lines. These are signs of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, but if not treated, it can develop into periodontitis and may lead to tooth loss and severe infections.
  • A chronically sore throat, hoarse speech and/or difficulty chewing/swallowing.

In order to properly check for signs of oral pathology, you will need to stand in front of a well-lit mirror and check inside your mouth from various angles. It will also help to pull back your lips/cheeks and to feel the inside of your mouth with your fingers.

The worst oral pathology diseases are lesions and mouth cancer, but even these can be treated if caught in the early stages. Periodontal disease and benign tumors are far more common, and a good oral pathologist can treat these diseases with relative ease.

Consult a Specialist

Monitoring your mouth for signs of oral pathology can help you get to a dental specialist for examination and/or treatment as early as possible and avoid any further complications.

Those concerned about their oral health in the Orlando and central Florida area can rely on Dr. Jeffrey Sevor, DMD, of Central Florida Periodontics & Implantology to examine their mouths for any signs of oral pathology. Dr. Sevor specializes in treating periodontal disease and oral pathology and has many positive local reviews.

For further information or to set an appointment, fill out the online contact form or call us at either of our two locations: 407-647-2295 (Winter Park) or 407-388-0800 (Winter Springs).