What does an oral pathologist do, and when do you need to see one? Since “oral pathology” is essentially the opposite of “oral health,” there are some symptoms you should consider a red flag worth discussing with your dentist to determine whether you need specialized treatment.
What is an Oral Pathologist, and What Do They Treat?
Dental professionals with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and dental disorders which affect the following areas:
- Lips and perioral skin surrounding the mouth
- Gums and inner lining of the mouth
- Salivary glands
- Jaws, facial joints and facial musculature
This means an oral pathologist treats diseases and conditions related to the entire mouth, head and neck region. In most cases, you’ll be referred to an oral pathologist but there are times when you may want to go straight to the source.
Symptoms to Report to an Oral Pathologist
Have you noticed any discoloration in the skin of your face or neck? Color inside your mouth along the gums, tongue, palate and inner lining should be uniform, smooth and pink. Red or white patches, lesions, and open sores which do not heal, gum inflammation and soreness or visibly receding gum line are also signs you should see a trained oral pathologist. Chronic hoarseness or sore throat and difficulty chewing, or swallowing is also signs you might benefit from an oral pathologist’s attention.
Your dentist may refer you to a specialist if they notice any of these symptoms, or if an oral cancer screening shows cause for concern. Since serious diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial region are much more easily managed when they’re detected quickly, it’s wise to not only keep an eye on things yourself but also to make and keep routine dental appointments. When treatment begins at the first sign of trouble, outcomes are improved substantially. This is particularly true of oral cancers and tumors, which can spread to other areas of the body if allowed to grow unchecked in the mouth.
The expert care providers at Katy Cypress Oral Surgery & Implant Center have extensive training and specialization in the treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, head, and neck. Call today to learn more about oral pathologists, what we treat and how we can help you navigate a variety of conditions. Together, we can help you maintain strong oral health and overall wellness.