The word ‘pathology’ is a medical term that is easily explained in layman’s terms. Pathology is simply ‘disease’. Oral pathology is specifically concerned with diseases of the mouth, including the lips, gums, teeth, tongue, palate, and upper throat.
The gums, inside of the cheeks and lips, roof of the mouth, soft palate, and under the tongue is a special type of skin called ‘mucosa’. The mucosa is distinguished from other oral tissues by its pink color and smooth texture. Staying aware of changes in the way the mucosa looks and feels could catch and stop harmful diseases early such as different forms of oral cancer. Watch for these warning signs of a disease process forming:
- Discolored patches (usually red or white) inside the mouth could signal the beginning of disorders like erythroplasia or leukoplakia.
- Mouth sores that persistently bleed and won’t heal.
- New lumps or nodes felt from the surface of the mucosa.
- Thickening or toughness of the inner layer of the mouth.
- Hoarse voice or sore throat that just won’t go away.
- Trouble chewing and swallowing food, drink, and saliva.
These types of transformations may be detected throughout any part of the oral lining and even outside the oral cavity on the neck and face. Do not wait until you feel pain to consult with experts. Pain is usually not reported by patients who have developed oral cancer and other diseases of the mouth. Of course, if you are experiencing pain of inconclusive origin in any of these areas, schedule a dental visit immediately.
Brushing and flossing regularly not only provides the immediate benefits of a clean and fresh-feeling mouth, but also provides the opportunity to examine the mouth for any changes listed above. Warning signs can develop quickly, so be sure to check at least once per month. Your mouth is made of delicate tissues that can be excellent way to alert you that something may be wrong. Please do not ignore any of the signs your mouth is trying to give you!