Oral Pathology

Oral Cancer Screening

Normally, the inside of your mouth is lined with a unique type of skin (mucosa) which should be smooth in texture and coral-pink in color. Any deviation from this appearance could indicate a potential or ongoing pathological process – the most serious being oral cancer. Any of the following could indicate the onset of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • A sore or unusual growth in your soft tissue or gums that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Difficulty in chewing, swallowing and/or speaking.
  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia), or whitish patches (leukoplakia) within your mouth.
  • A lump on, or thickening of the skin lining the inside your mouth.
  • An ulcer that bleeds and has not healed for several weeks.
  • A recent, rapid shift of a tooth position that has changed your bite.

Changes may be detected on the lips, tongue, palate, the gum tissue surrounding your teeth, and even on your face, including cheeks, neck, etc.

It is important to note that pain does not always occur with pathology. Interestingly, pain is often not associated with oral cancer. With respect to the aforementioned, it should be noted that any patient experiencing facial and/or oral pain, without an obvious reason or cause, may also be at risk for oral cancer.

We recommend performing a monthly self-examination for oral cancer as it will help in early recognition and detection, and increase your chance for a better outcome.

Oral Pathology

Self Examination

When performing an oral cancer self -examination, look for the following:

  1. White patches of the oral tissues (leukoplakia)
  2. Red or reddish patches (erythroplakia)
  3. Red and white patches (reythroleukoplakia)
  4. A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  5. An abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth
  6. Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  7. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
  8. A mass or lump in the neck

Your mouth is one of your body’s most critical warning systems. Suspicious lumps or sores should never be ignored. If you are experiencing any of the above, please contact us so we can help.

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Factors that may cause cancer

Research has identified several factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer.  Tobacco and alcohol are at the top of the list. Those at an especially high risk of developing oral cancer are over 40 years of age, heavy drinkers and smokers, or users of smokeless tobacco, including snuff.

Others factors include poor oral hygiene, irritation caused by poor-fitting dentures (and rough surfaces on the teeth), poor nutrition, some chronic infections, genetics, and combinations of these factors. Studies have shown that the death rate from oral cancer is roughly four times higher for cigarette smokers, than for nonsmokers.  In the medical field it is also widely believed that heat generated by smoking pipes and cigars irritates the mouth, and can lead to lip cancer.

While oral cancer is on the rise (especially among men), the chances of survival are typically near 80% with immediate diagnosis and treatment.


Oral Screening

At the Strawberry Hill Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, we conduct a thorough oral tissue inspection as part of every new patient’s initial, comprehensive oral exam and consultation. We search for tissue abnormalities that could indicate disease, oral cancer, or other pathological disease. Early recognition, classification, and treatment of disease may sound simple – however, that is not always the norm’. The early “clinical appearance” of conditions may be subtle – and more overt clinical features may not be distinctive. Because of these issues, it is almost always necessary to submit tissue(s) for microscopic examination to determine their true nature. If we have reason to believe abnormal cells may be present, we will biopsy the affected area and send it to Mount Sinai to be analyzed by laboratory specialists, (again, please note that it is impossible to decisively diagnose a pathological disease without taking a biopsy sample of the affected area). Your biopsy report will help establish a diagnosis, and enable us to develop a specific plan of treatment. Dr. Joseph Sciarrino of the Strawberry Hill Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center has spent three decades specializing in the treatment of oral pathology.

For less serious problems, many options are available, such as: Antibiotics – In the case of a bacterial infection or persistent soreness, we may prescribe a dose of antibiotics to return the mucosa to its natural state. This should alleviate any soreness and discomfort. Chlorehexidine mouth rinse – When poor oral hygiene has caused changes to the soft tissue, we may prescribe a Chlorehexidine mouth rinse.  This rinse will kill more bacteria than regular mouthwash and assist with calculus/tartar build-up as well as improve halitosis (bad breath).

If you are experiencing any pain or symptoms that cause you concern, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.


Request an Appointment With Us

We look forward to speaking with you. Kindly phone us at (203) 967-3707 with any questions or schedule an appointment – or, if after hours, complete our simple form below.