During the course of an initial dental examination, an oral exam will also be performed. This type of exam will look for any signs of disease within the mouth and the maxillofacial region.
Mucosa lines the soft tissue inside the mouth and has a certain texture and color when healthy. But when disease begins, the mucosa will take on a different texture and color and will alert the dentist to the fact that a pathologic problem, including oral cancer, may be occurring within the mouth.
Geographic tongue is an affliction where the tongue will be missing small bumps in certain spots and will take on the appearance of a map. Red, rash-like patches can come and go for months at a time and will make the tongue very sensitive to specific substances.
A median palatal cyst is developmental in origin and consists of a sac filled with fluid that will usually appear in the middle of the palate. It can cause a good deal of discomfort.
During regular checkups your dentist will look for any change with tongue, gum or inner cheeks that can be a sign of disease. When diagnosed early, any disease can be treated before it becomes serious.
A hairy tongue is a condition that can develop from an overgrowth of bacteria or a yeast infection within the mouth. With this affliction, the tongue will look black and hairy. It can develop due to poor oral hygiene, the chronic use of antibiotics, or head and neck radiation treatments. Intravenous drug users and HIV positive individuals can also develop this condition.
The majority of conditions within the mouth are very uncomfortable though not life-threatening. But oral cancer is on the rise, especially with men, and if it is diagnosed and treated early, the survival rate is 80%.
It is imperative to get immediate treatment for any changes that are noticed with the tongue, gums or inner cheeks. Any suspicious changes will require a biopsy to properly diagnose, so quick action on the part of the patient is crucial.
When the problem is not as serious, it may be handled in one of three different ways, depending on the type of condition that is involved. Antibiotics will be prescribed for a bacterial infection or soreness of the mouth. Diluted hydrogen peroxide in a mouthwash will be prescribed if poor oral hygiene is responsible for the existing condition. Cysts or other benign growths can be removed through oral surgery.
A comprehensive examination of the mouth, including oral cancer screenings, will catch problems in their beginning stages and can make the difference between life and death.