An oral exam is routinely performed by the dentist during the course of an initial comprehensive exam and regular check-ups. An oral cancer exam refers to the identification and management of diseases pertaining to the maxillofacial and oral regions.
The soft tissue of the mouth is normally lined with mucosa, which is a special type of skin that should appear smooth in texture and pink in color. Any alteration of the color or texture of the mucosa may signal the beginning of a pathologic process. These changes may occur on the face, neck, and areas of the mouth (e.g., gums, tongue, lips, etc.). The most serious of these pathologic changes (which may or may not be painful) is oral cancer, but there are also many other common pathologic problems.
Treatment of Pathological Diseases
Pathological changes experienced in the oral region can be uncomfortable, but not life threatening. However, oral cancer is on the rise (especially among men) and the chances of survival are around 80% if an immediate diagnosis is made.
Oral cancer is a general term used when referring to any type of cancer affecting the tongue, jaw, and lower cheek area. Since it is impossible for your Oral Surgeon to decisively diagnose a pathological disease without taking a biopsy sample of the affected area, seeking immediate treatment when changes are first noticed is very important.
During the course of a regular check up, the dentist will thoroughly inspect the soft tissue of the mouth and take serious note of any changes. If there are cell changes present, you will be referred to your Oral Surgeon, who will take a biopsy of the affected area and send it away to be analyzed by laboratory specialists. When definitive results are obtained, your Oral Surgeon can decide on the best course of treatment.