What is Pathology?

Pathology is the science of diseases. In the dental spectrum, pathology is identifying abnormal growths in the mouth and conducting biopsies. The biopsy will tell us whether the growth is benign or not. We can remove the growth from the mouth and refer you to an oncologist for further treatment to prevent cancer from spreading.

What is Oral Cancer?

One of the things your dentist looks for during a dental exam is any signs of abnormal growth. This is because sometimes these abnormal growths are cancerous. Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth including the lips, gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth, or the inner lining of the cheeks. Unless you take the time to look around your mouth all the time, it’s important to visit the dentist regularly so they can catch any unusual looking spots. We use advanced dental technology, VELscope, to find the earliest signs of abnormalities in your mouth.

The sooner you catch oral cancer, the better the outcome. Of the 53,260 people diagnosed with oral cancer per year, 10,750 of them will die – that’s 20%.

upclose image of a woman with inflamed gums

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Aside from unusual growths in the mouth, there are a few other symptoms of oral cancer you can watch out for including:

  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth or lip sore that doesn’t heal
  • Reddish or white patch in the mouth
  • Lump or growth inside the mouth
  • Mouth pain
  • Ear pain
  • Painful or difficulty swallowing

If you notice any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible for pathology with Southlake, TX dentist Dr. Urbanek.

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

The actions you take in your daily life can play a large role in whether or not you develop oral cancer. The following factors can increase your risk of developing oral cancer.

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Tobacco use including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips
  • Contracting human papillomavirus
  • Weakened immune system

Although there’s no way to prevent mouth cancer, you can reduce your risk by:

  • Stopping tobacco use – If you currently use any tobacco products, quit as soon as possible. If you don’t use any, don’t start. It doesn’t matter what type of tobacco you use. They are all harmful to the body.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation – Although not drinking alcohol is the best way to reduce your risk, drinking in moderation can also help. Experts recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Avoid excess sun exposure to the lips – If you must be outside in the sun, wear a hat and lip balm with sunscreen in it every time you’re outside. Try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Visit the dentist regularly – You can’t see every area in your mouth yourself. By having a dentist examine your mouth regularly, you’re more likely to receive an early diagnosis.

Pathology in Southlake, TX

When you visit Dr. Urbanek for pathology, he will first complete an oral exam looking for abnormal growths. Although oral cancer is a possibility, sometimes abnormal growths are just cysts or benign tumors. In some cases, an abnormal growth is actually related to your teeth and some type of infection occurring there. To help rule this out, Dr. Urbanek will complete a CT scan of your jaw. If he finds something unusual, he will take a biopsy of it. Once he receives the results, if it’s cancerous, he will refer you to an oncologist.

If you’re overdue for an oral cancer exam or suspect that you might have oral cancer, please contact StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery in Southlake, TX today for an appointment. Please call (817) 587-4414 today for an appointment.