Oral Pathology


Healthy oral tissues, those of your tongue, cheeks and your gums, are smooth in texture and pink in color. Any changes in the color or texture of your gums may be nothing, but they can often point to an oral health issue. For this reason, it is important that you have these changes examined as soon as possible. At Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery, we perform oral pathology, which allows us to diagnose, and therefore treat, your oral pathological issues.

Pathological Diseases


Oral pathology is a part of dentistry that deals with diagnosing, and treating, any changes to the cells, tissues and the organs of the mouth that are caused by any one of a number of different diseases. Common pathological diseases include:
•  Geographic tongue. The entire surface of your tongue is covered in tiny bumps, or papillae. Geographic tongue is a condition in which areas of your tongue are missing these papillae, creating a map-like appearance. The areas of missing papillae may also be red and sensitive.
•  Hairy tongue. This disease is the result of an overgrowth of bacteria often caused by poor oral hygiene or continued use of certain antibiotics. With this disease the tongue appears almost black in color and looks hairy.
•  Median palatal cysts. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can often form as a result an infection. This particular cyst forms on the palate. Cysts are benign or non-cancerous but they can lead to a significant amount of pain.
•  Oral cancer. Oral cancer is a serious pathological disease. Every year over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed. When not detected early the survival rate past five years is very low.

How Are Pathological Diseases Diagnosed?


It is important that you have any changes in your oral tissues examined as soon as possible. Diagnosing a pathological disease requires a thorough oral examination. This exam includes a visual inspection of your mouth as well as imaging such as x-rays. In many cases, we may also perform a soft tissue biopsy. A biopsy is a diagnostic tool that involves the removal of a small amount of the abnormality for closer examination under a microscope. There are several types of different biopsies, including excisional, incisional, punch, and brush. Biopsies are an effective tool for diagnosing, and ruling out, oral cancer.

Treatments for Pathological Diseases


With the exception of oral cancer, pathological diseases are not life-threatening. There are various treatment options for pathological diseases, and these treatments depend on your specific situation. Based on your diagnosis, we can help to determine the best course of action. Common treatments for pathological diseases include:
•  Antibiotics. Antibiotics are prescribed in the event of a bacterial infection. Along with killing off the harmful bacteria, antibiotics can also help to alleviate the pain that accompanies the infection.
•  Prescription mouthwash. A prescription mouthwash is often recommended in the event that a pathological disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. When used in conjunction with improved oral hygiene practices, a prescription mouthwash can help to eliminate an infection.
•  Oral surgery. Non-cancerous growths and cysts may need to be removed with oral surgery. Cancerous growths can also be removed with surgery in an effort to stop the spread of cancer. In the event that cancer is still present, further treatments will be required.

Any changes in your oral tissues, no matter how minor they may seem, should be checked out as soon as possible. Call Westlake Oral Surgery today at (805) 267-9766 for more information or to schedule your consultation.
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