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Hot on the Trail with Oral Pathology
Posted on March 27th, 2021
When it comes to your oral health, we hope you never have any pains or problems. Good preventive care will help you always feel your best! But even with the best habits, dental problems do happen. In that case, oral pathology is the science and medicine that helps diagnose and treat whatever is making you ache. If you think you have oral disease, don’t be embarrassed, but get help as soon as possible.
What is Oral Pathology?
Sometimes things go wrong, even in the healthiest people. If you have pain, bleeding, or unusual symptoms in your mouth, oral pathology helps us find the answers you need.
According to the American Dental Association: “Oral pathology is the specialty of dentistry and discipline of pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions.” In other words, oral pathology is the science that understands the causes and effects of these diseases. Common practices include clinical examinations, lab testing, and taking the whole body health and chemistry into consideration.
Pathology is important because if you have a certain problem, we want to know exactly what it is so that we can offer the right treatment. For example, viruses and bacteria are completely different kinds of organisms. Both can make you sick, but in order to get the proper treatment, we want to know what exactly is causing the problem.
For example, let’s say at your last checkup, Dr. Michael Colleran noticed your gums bled more than usual and have started to recede. These are early warning signs of gingivitis and gum disease. But why now? Your gums have been healthy for your whole life. After a brief discussion, we rule out any dietary, hygiene or lifestyle changes. But you are taking a new medication – a medication that is known to cause dry mouth, a common risk factor for gum disease. Aha! And there we have it. Oral pathology has done it again!
Oral pathology takes into consideration your personal health background to consider what existing medical conditions might be affecting you specifically. This is why it’s a great idea to have a good relationship with your San Luis Obispo dentist that includes sharing any and all health problems and medications – even if you think they don’t have anything to do with your mouth. Your oral health and your overall health go hand-in-hand!
According to the World Health Organization: “Risk factors for oral diseases include an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, and social determinants.” Any of these combined with your personal risk factors can make you and your mouth unhealthy.
The main categories of oral diseases are:
Pain: Any number of problems can cause pain in your mouth, jaw, and neck.
Infections: Can be caused by fungus, bacteria, or viruses.
Cancer: Warning signs include a discolored tongue or gums, open wounds, or lumps in your mouth or throat.
Cavities: Called dental caries, lead to tooth decay and other complications.
Gum Disease: A common but treatable infection and inflammation of the gums.
Tooth Loss: Many oral diseases can cause tooth loss. Your San Luis Obispo dentist can treat the problem and also talk with you about tooth replacement options.
Anything that prevents you from comfortably speaking, smiling, chewing, and swallowing is an oral problem. While accidents and injuries aren’t diseases, but they can certainly harm your oral health.
A healthy mouth is key for a healthy body and a happy life. The best way to protect your oral health is through good oral hygiene and healthy lifestyle habits. This includes:
Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes
Flossing or cleaning between your teeth once every day
Seeing the dentist regularly, usually two times per year
Eating a healthy diet and avoiding/limiting smoking, sugar, and alcohol
Drinking lots of water and getting good sleep
Understanding how your overall health affects your oral health
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
About Dr. Colleran
Dr. Colleran is a nationally renowned dental author and lecturer and an expert on laser dentistry. He has spoken across the country on laser dentistry and had articles appear in several professional journals. He is also sought after by dental manufacturers as a consultant for product evaluation and research. Dr. Colleran is an instructor for the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, which teaches LANAP and other laser dental procedures to dentists from across the globe.
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