Oral pathology is a branch of dentistry which concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases. In addition to the teeth, oral pathology diseases can affect the alveolar bone, temporomandibular joints, gums, tongue, and a range of other soft tissues, such as the salivary glands. As a result of this physiological scope, the array of diseases studied by oral pathologists is necessarily diverse.

Oral Cancer

Each year, 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer. The risk of contracting the disease is significantly heightened by the excessive consumption of alcohol and also by smoking. Oral cancer is 6 times more prevalent among smokers and drinkers than among non-smokers and non-drinkers.

Symptoms  

The earliest symptoms of oral cancer may include the appearance of a tiny white spot or a sore in the mouth. The best way to ensure early detection is to attend oral checkups on a regular basis.

Additional symptoms include;

  • Change in mouth’s color
  • Persistent sores
  • Lumps, rough spots, thickenings, or crusts
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or articulating jaw
  • Sore throat

Treatment    

First off, the cancerous growth is surgically removed. Thereafter, either radiation therapy or chemotherapy is used to kill any remaining cancerous cells.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a contagious disease which is caused by a yeast infection in the mouth. The condition results when trace quantities of candida fungus gain a hold and begin to proliferate. Thrush is most commonly observed among young infants, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms    

Although widely associated with the telltale development of white or yellow patches in the mouth, there are a number of additional symptoms that can also point to the presence of thrush.

  • Dry cracked skin at edges of the mouth
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Mouth soreness
  • Loss of taste
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing

Treatment    

Thrush is typically treated using antifungal medications.

Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is caused by one of two subtypes of the herpes simplex virus. Type 1 is responsible for 80% of cases, while type 2 accounts for the remainder. The virus is carried by as many as 90% of the adult population. However, of that 90 %, for reasons which remain unclear, oral herpes only affects 40%. In the majority of cases, the condition is short-lived and, even if left untreated, typically resolves itself within 2 weeks.

Symptoms

The condition is characterized by the presence of painful sores throughout the mouth. In some cases, a fever or muscle aches may also develop.

Treatment    

At present, there is no known cure for the underlying herpes virus. However, the superficial symptoms can be successfully treated with over-the-counter medications or antiviral prescriptions.

Black Hairy Tongue

This condition is temporary and harmless. It’s caused by an accumulation of bacteria on the tongue’s papillae, which stimulates the creation of red blood pigments. In turn, the creation of red blood pigments makes the tongue appear black.

Symptoms of Black Hairy Tongue    

In addition to the characteristic symptoms of a blackened tongue with a hairy coating, other signs to look out for include;

  • Altered taste
  • Bad Breath
  • Tickling sensation

Treatment

Of all the oral pathology diseases, black hairy tongue is one of the easiest to treat. Indeed, in the majority of cases, no medical treatment is called for. Rather, to combat the condition, patients are encouraged to sustain improved levels of oral hygiene and to eliminate other lifestyle factors which may contribute to the disease.