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Things That Go Bump in the Night

The oral cavity and surrounding tissues act as a mirror as to the state of the health of an individual. Many altered states of health are either first manifested or diagnosed by the appearance of the oral tissues, lips, or structures of the head and neck. Males are more susceptible than females with the severity of oral lesions.

These possible life altering conditions make the visit to the doctor of dentistry on a routine basis an imperative part of the health routine.

The oral tissues normally are observed as being pink and free of altered coloring. One of the common effects of the oral tissues which may cause some concern is a protective thickening of the tissues in response to an irritant or some systemic alteration. This thickening is usually white in nature as opposed to the pink hue. This increase thickness or reduced translucency is commonly found in people who use tobacco products. This alteration can be caused either by smoking or chewing tobacco. These alterations are a result in abnormal tissue cells which can represent a form of oral cancer. Cancer is known as the great mimicker. Diagnosis without histologic confirmation can result in disastrous results. Therefore, it is necessary for a dental professional to examine the areas of concern. Almost any unusual bump or color change should be tested by a biopsy to rule out disease. Ulcerations of a duration of more than two weeks is considered chronic which may represent disease. The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The biopsy is usually a simple procedure which can be accomplished in the office setting utilizing local anesthesia.

There are many benign lesions of the oral cavity that become thickened and white. Some autoimmune phenomena present this way as well as some fungal infections. Lesions of this type should be evaluated by a doctor of dentistry. Furthermore, lumps and bumps of the palate need attention as well.

Lips are another area of concern especially with people who are out in the sun. Crusting of the lower lip for any length of time should be evaluated. The lesion could be a simple reaction to the sun or the beginning of a more problematic disease. Lumps of the inner lip need to be evaluated and may need a biopsy. One of the more common lesions of the lower lip is a mucocele or broken salivary gland. Early intervention by removal of this lesion is key. This type of lesion can enlarge and may require an extensive surgical removal.

X rays reveal many different types of oral pathology such as cysts, tumors of the jaws, infection, and inflammatory conditions. Some of these lesions even after removal must be monitored closely due to aggressive recurrence. The keratocyst is not common, however it can be very aggressive and hard to treat . The recurrence can result in the loss of, bone, dental structures, and soft tissue.

Due to the significance of the oral cavity as a mirror of an individual’s overall health one should understand the importance of an oral examine. The dental examine represents an important part of an individual’s global health evaluation.

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