Management of Oral Pathology

Pathologic lesions of the oral cavity can involve the hard or soft tissues. Hard tissue pathology includes alterations in the teeth or bone. Soft tissue pathology typically present as ulcers, patches, changes in color, or bumps of the gums, lips, cheek, tongue, or salivary glands. Not all changes in oral cavity infer a diagnosis of cancer, but these changes should be evaluated in a timely fashion, as it has been shown that early diagnosis of head and neck cancer provides a significantly better prognosis. Performing regular self-examination is recommended to help in early detection. When performing self-examination, one should look for these signs:

  • white or red patches
  • sores that do not heal
  • tissue that bleeds easily or is friable
  • bumps or thickening of tissues

Hard tissues lesions are those found within the jawbones and are most commonly cysts or tumors associated with the development or eruption of impacted teeth. Most of these lesions are identified by radiographs, but some may present with symptoms. Such symptoms may include:

  • swelling of the jaw
  • mobility of the teeth
  • displacement of teeth
  • unexplained numbness of the upper lip, lower lip, chin, cheek, or tongue

Soft and hard tissue lesions can be biopsied by our office, and then evaluated by an oral pathologist. Most biopsies can be performed in the office, removing either the entire lesion or a representative sample. All biopsies performed at our office are evaluated by a board-certified oral and maxillofacial pathologist at The University of Tennessee Medical center. A diagnosis from the oral pathologist is usually available within one week of the biopsy and allows us to formulate the most appropriate treatment for your condition. Treatments may range from observation to medications to further surgery.