Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. This oral condition affects about 9% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64. Dental diseases are highly frequent and afflict millions of people, ranging from cavities to oral cancer. Cleft lip and palate, for example, is a congenital condition, whereas others are caused by poor oral hygiene and other lifestyle factors. Many oral disorders are discovered after they have progressed to the point that treatment choices are limited. This may explain why so many adults lose their teeth before reaching middle age. Early detection is crucial, which is where oral pathology comes in.
This branch of dentistry investigates the causes and symptoms of diseases that affect the teeth, jaws, lips, and other neck and face regions. This department is also responsible for looking into the various treatment options and diagnostic services. Oral pathologists are experts in various conditions, from tooth decay to rare diseases with little or no symptoms. These may include the following:
- Cleft lip and palate – Cleft lip and palate are birth abnormalities that occur when the lip or mouth of a baby does not develop normally during pregnancy. These congenital malformations are collectively known as “orofacial clefts.”
- Torus mandibularis – A bony growth on the lower jaw, beneath and to the side of the tongue. Tori affects approximately 27 out of 1,000 adults.
- Stafne defect – Stafne’s bone cavity is a rare, asymptomatic, unilateral oval-shaped radiolucent lesion below the inferior alveolar canal in the posterior portion of the jaw. This oral disease is most prevalent in men.
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis is a moderate form of gum disease (periodontal disease) that causes irritation, redness, and swelling (inflammation) of the gingiva, the area of your gum that surrounds your teeth. Gingivitis should be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible.
- Periodontitis – Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that can result in severe inflammation of the gums that affects the soft tissue. If left untreated, it can damage the bone that supports your teeth.
- Herpes simplex – Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is also known as HSV. This virus is extremely contagious and can be passed through direct contact from one person to another.
- Oral cancer – Also known as mouth cancer, occurs when a tumor forms in the mouth region. These tumors can form on the tongue’s surface, within the cheeks, the roof of the mouth (palate), the lips, or the gums.
- Sjogren’s syndrome – Dry eyes and a dry mouth are two of the most prevalent symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune disorder. Other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are frequently associated with this condition.
- Burning mouth syndrome – Burning mouth syndrome is a medical term for a burning sensation in the mouth that is persistent or recurrent and has no evident cause. This sensation may appear in your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth (palate), or other regions of your mouth.
Medical specialists in this field collaborate closely with dentists and oral surgeons to diagnose and treat such dental diseases. If you’re referred to an oral pathologist, they may order more testing, such as a biopsy, to evaluate your condition and deliver an accurate diagnosis.