What is Oral Pathology?
Oral pathology involves diagnosing and treating abnormalities and diseases of the mouth and surrounding structures, such as the jaw and neck. As a board-certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Eisenberg is an expert in oral pathology and has extensive experience in surgically treating cancer of the head, neck and mouth. How common are these cancers? Well, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be approximately 54,010 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer this year. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is high. This isn’t because the cancer itself is inherently more dangerous than other types, but, instead, because it’s often detected in the late stages.
Perform a Monthly Self-Exam
Your general dentist and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon are in the best position to detect oral cancer during examinations. However, since early detection is the key to successful treatment, you should also perform an oral cancer self-exam once a month.
Use a mirror and a bright light to conduct your exam by going through the following steps:
- If you have dentures, remove them
- Look and feel inside of your lips and the front of your gums
- Tilt your head back and inspect and feel the roof of your mouth
- Use your finger to gently pull your cheek out and look at your gums in the back of your mouth, as well as the inside of your cheeks
- Pull your tongue out of your mouth and take a look at all of its surfaces
- Feel along both sides of your neck and under your lower jaw for enlarged lymph nodes (glands) or lumps
When doing an oral cancer self-examination, look for the following:
- White patches (leukoplakia), red patches (erythroplakia), red and white patches (erythroleukoplakia) or black patches on your oral tissues
- A sore that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
- An abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth
- Chronic hoarseness or sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- A lump or mass in the neck
Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. If you spot any of these issues, make an appointment for an exam at Knoxville Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery as soon as possible. Don’t delay or ignore suspicious spots, lumps or sores. Early detection and treatment will greatly increase the odds that you’ll experience a complete recovery.
When you visit our Knoxville, TN oral and maxillofacial surgery practice for this type of diagnostic exam, we’ll take your medical history and Dr. Eisenberg will discuss any risk factors you have. She’ll then examine your mouth, jaws, head and neck. She may also take scans or x-rays and, if needed, perform a biopsy.
During a biopsy, Dr. Eisenberg will remove a piece of the suspicious tissue so that it can be evaluated by a pathologist. Biopsies are generally fast, relatively painless and can usually be done under local anesthesia.
If lesions, lumps or sores are benign, Dr. Eisenberg will provide you with homecare instructions in order to speed up healing and alleviate discomfort. If a condition or disease like oral cancer is diagnosed, she’ll sit down with you to decide on the proper treatment plan for your needs, so that you can start on the road to recovery.
Your Comfort is Our Top Priority
At our Knoxville, Tennessee oral surgery practice, we rely on cutting-edge technology and our in-depth experience to offer high quality care to patients of all ages in a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. If you’re ready to maintain or restore your oral health and smile aesthetics, schedule a visit with us today!