Oral Medicine & Pathology

What Is It?

The tissues inside the mouth can develop a variety of alterations in appearance that may represent pathology. This can range from changes in tissue color (red, white, brown), rashes, ulcers, or lumps and bumps. Many of these changes represent benign pathologic changes, but in some instances changes may be indicative of either pre-cancerous or cancerous changes. If you have noticed a change in the tissues in your mouth that lasts for more than 2 weeks, it is important to have it examined.
The following can be signs of tissue changes suggestive of pathology:

  • 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
  • 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. Many types of lesions do not cause pain. The absence of pain does not mean that these changes are not relevant, and they still require examination.

Pathologic changes within the jaw bones, such as cysts or benign tumours, may be found on radiographs (x-rays). In many instances you would not experience symptoms from these, while in cases there may be swelling or expansion of the bone, pain, or changes in feeling inside your mouth or on parts of your facial skin.

You may be referred to Dr. Freilich for evaluation of a tissue or bone pathology. Dr. Freilich will perform a clinical examination, with radiologic examination as required. Depending on the nature of the lesion, either biopsy or excision (removal) of the lesion may be required for both diagnosis and treatment. Some types of lesions can be treated with topical or systemic medications, depending on the diagnosis. If a lesion is found to be malignant (cancerous), Dr. Freilich would refer you to a head and neck oncologist for definitive treatment.


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