Oral Pathology

We regularly receive referrals from physicians and dentists asking us to evaluate changes to various soft tissue in the mouth.  In order to provide a specific diagnosis we will often send a sample of tissue to the lab for evaluation.  This procedure is usually done with local anesthetic and we receive the results in approximately two weeks.. 

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplakia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth or under the jaw.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Difficulty in mouth opening, chewing or swallowing.

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.