Oral Pathology

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 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.

Geographic Tongue – Also known as Benign Migratory Glossitis or Erythema Migrans, is a condition where the tongue is missing papillae (small bumps) in different areas, and a map-like appearance can develop. This condition is usually seen as red well defined areas on or around the sides of the tongue. The red patches (which can look like an unsightly rash) may come and go from hours to months at a time and cause increased sensitivity to certain substances.

Median Palatal Cyst – This cyst is of developmental origin and is essentially a fluid filled skin sac. It usually appears in the middle of the palate and may cause substantial discomfort.

Hairy Tongue – An overgrowth of bacteria or a yeast infection in the mouth which can cause the tongue to appear hairy and black. This condition is usually a result of poor oral hygiene, chronic or extensive use of antibiotics, or radiation treatments to the head or neck. It is often also seen in HIV positive patients and those who are intravenous drug users. Hairy Tongue may or may not require treatment.

Treatment of Pathological Diseases

In the majority of cases, the pathological changes experienced in the oral region are uncomfortable and disfiguring, 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 the dentist to decisively diagnose a pathological disease without taking a biopsy sample of the affected area, seeking immediate treatment when changes are first noticed might be a life and death decision. For less serious problems, there are several options available, such as:

  • Antibiotics – In the case of a bacterial infection or persistent soreness, the dentist may prescribe a dose of antibiotics to return the mucosa to its natural state. This will alleviate soreness and discomfort.
  • Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide – When poor oral hygiene is causing changes to the soft tissue, the dentist may prescribe a diluted hydrogen peroxide mouthwash. This will kill more bacteria than regular mouthwash and improve halitosis (bad breath).
  • Oral Surgery – If the patient has cysts or abnormal non-cancerous growths, the dentist may decide to completely remove them. This can improve comfort levels, alleviate breathing problems, and make speech substantially easier depending on the location of the cyst.

Oral Examinations

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, the dentist will take a biopsy of the affected area and send it away to be analyzed by laboratory specialists. When definitive results are obtained, the dentist can decide on the best course of treatment.

Oral Cancer Screenings

An oral cancer screening is usually performed during a comprehensive or recall (check-up) exam. Screening is painless and only takes a few minutes. The dentist or hygienist will use a laser light to assess the soft tissue for cell changes that might be indicative of oral cancer. If such cell changes are present, a small biopsy will be taken and sent to a laboratory for review. If the biopsy indicates that oral cancer is present, an excision (removal) will generally be performed.

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

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

I've had the privilege of going to Dr. Howard since young (decades). Now my entire family has chosen Dr. Howard and Dr. Alan Igasaki as our dentists. Both are calm, soothing, gentle and amazing dentists. Dr. Alan also specializes in periodontics which helped the extensive gum work we had to do over the years. The entire staff is super friendly and fun. There wasn't one visit I didn't leave laughing or encouraged by some one on the staff.

The doctors work well together and often seek each other's opinion. I appreciate that they're always educating themselves and using the latest technology. Dr. Alan used the laser on my son's gum procedure with no bleeding and minimal pain. They also allow you to bring your own music in and can play movies on a special eyeglass video screen. We often didn't want to leave since the "movie wasn't over." I get pretty anxious with any dental work. I watched a relaxing movie about Hawaii and the ocean. Both doctors are soothing and often talk to you a long time previous to treatment. It helps a lot. They're gentle also and will ask you for feedback if there's pain or discomfort. Very empathetic doctors as well as being brilliant clinically is rare. Highly recommended!!!

M D.

I cannot believe I am giving ANY dentist that I have personally seen any stars. But I must say Dr. Howard Igaskai, deserves every single one of them. I am not an easy person to get into a dental office let alone a dental chair! My fear of dentist started as a child & never went away. Dr. Howard aka Papa Howard, knew of my anxiety & went as far as unbuttoning his top collar & removing his coat just to make me feel at ease. I honestly have major trust issues w/dentist. I have horrible teeth due to the lack of dental care. I need a lot of work & it took a lot for me to even make this appointment. With that being said Dr. Howard took his time to explain & examine everything. I have to admit I didn't trust him from the get go & had a stink face but as the appointment went on he made me feel comfortable enough to make me want to return to his office. Yes, you read that right. I will go BACK....WILLINGLY! I'm still afraid & nervous as heck but from the front desk ladies, to the dental assistants & Dr. Howard....thank you! Thank you for NOT giving up on me. Thank you for making me feel comfortable enough to want to return. I'll see you again (still anxious) but I will be there.

Diana A.

I am SO honored to be able to rate and provide information on my dentist's office. In a world where people freak out about seeing the dentist, I LOVE mine! The front staff is great (very welcoming and informative), Elsie is my favorite hygienist (very inviting and great to talk to - even with tools in your mouth!), and Dr. Howard is da bomb! This is the one doctor I see religiously!

My parents were smart in taking me with them to the dentist (they are patients here, as well) when I was very young. I don't recall what age I was when Dr. Howard first started treating me, but I don't ever recall not knowing or feeling comfortable with him. And, now that I'm old, he still asks about my migraines, my family, and is just very pleasant to speak with any time I do.

I wanted to whiten my teeth and he told me no - that mine are naturally bright. He could have done it anyway, but that's just one way he is always looking out for me.

God willing, I will NEVER not have the wonderful folks here as my dental professionals! I always get compliments on my teeth!

Anika C.

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Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.
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