During the course of the initial regular check-ups and detailed examination, the dentist performs a routine oral exam. An oral cancer exam has to do with identifying and managing diseases that pertain to the maxillofacial and oral regions.
The soft tissue in the mouth is usually lined with mucosa (a smooth skin which is mostly pink in color). Altering the texture of the mucosa may trigger the onset of a pathologic process. These changes may take place on the neck, face, and mouth areas such as the tongue, gums, and lips.
Oral cancer happens to be most serious of these pathologic changes, but there are also lots of other pathologic problems.
Geographic Tongue – also referred to as Erythema Migrans or Benign Migratory Glossitis, is a condition where small bumps (papillae) is missing from different areas of the tongue and a map-like pattern can appear. This condition is usually characterized by prominent red areas around the sides of the tongue. The red patches may appear and disappear within hours to months and make the mouth sensitive to some substances.
Median Palatal Cyst – this cyst refers to a fluid-filled skin sac; it is also of developmental origin. It is usually seen in the middle of the palate and may result in significant discomfort.
Hairy Tongue – this refers to an overgrowth of yeast or bacterial infection in the mouth and can make the tongue look black and hairy. This condition usually occurs as a result of radiation treatments to the head or neck, extensive use antibiotics, or poor oral hygiene. It is common among HIV patients or users of intravenous drug users. Hairy Tongue may or may not need to be treated.
Treatment of Pathological Diseases
In most cases, the changes that take place in the oral region, though not life-threatening can be disfiguring and uncomfortable. However, oral cancer is becoming more prevalent, especially among men, immediate diagnosis can raise survival rate to about 80%.
Any cancer that affects the tongue, lower cheek area, and jaw is usually referred to as oral cancer. Since it’s not possible for a dentist to correctly diagnose a pathological condition without a biopsy sample of the affected part, undergoing treatment immediately symptoms are noticed might be key to survival. There is a range of options available for less serious problems. These include:
Antibiotics – Regarding persistent soreness or bacterial infection, a dose of antibiotics may be recommended by the dentist to restore the mucosa to its former state. This will remove any discomfort and soreness.
Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide – when the soft tissue is changing due to poor oral hygiene, a diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash may be prescribed by the dentist. This will be more effective at killing more bacteria than regular mouthwash and improve bad breath (halitosis).
Oral Surgery – if the patient is suffering from abnormal non-cancerous growths or cysts, the dentist may choose to get rid of them completely. This can result in an increase in improved comfort levels, solve any breathing issues, and significantly improve cysts depending on where the cyst is located.
The dentist inspects the mouth’s soft tissue thoroughly during regular check-ups and pays attention to any changes. The dentist takes a biopsy of the affected area if cell changes are present and sends it for analysis by lab specialists. The dentist then decides on the treatment option after obtaining definitive results.
Oral Cancer Screenings
This is usually carried out during a check-up or comprehensive examination. Screening is done within a few minutes and it is a painless process. The dentist uses a laser light in assessing the soft tissue to see if there are cell changes that might indicate the presence of oral cancer. If there is a sign of cell changes, the dentist will take a small biopsy and send it to the lab for review. Should the biopsy indicate the presence of oral cancer; an excision will be carried out.
If you have some symptoms or pain that gives you concern, we advise that you get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.