Oral Pathology

What is oral pathology?

Oral pathology is a service provided by oral and maxillofacial surgeons that involves doing a biopsy on tissue that appears abnormal or suspicious. Biopsy samples are then evaluated by pathology laboratories and tested for malignancies. For example, if a lesion has formed on the inside of the check, our team may remove a small portion of the lesion and send it to a pathology laboratory to be tested for any abnormalities and for accurate diagnosis. This then allows our doctors to prescribe the appropriate treatment.

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin called mucosa that is smooth and coral 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 (erythroplasia) 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
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in 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.