The mouth has an important function in our daily life. Eating and speech can be affected by a disease process in the mouth. The oral cavity consists of many structures including bone (maxilla and mandible), mucosa (gum tissue), muscle (tongue and facial muscles), lymph nodes, fat, nerves and blood vessels. Any of these structures can develop a disease process. The disease process may indicate that you have other diseases in the body. For example, fungal infections are common with diabetes. Dry mouth could be caused by salivary gland disease that is related to an autoimmune disease such as Sjogren ’s syndrome. These conditions including the diagnosis and treatment can be managed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

What are some symptoms and signs that you have a disease in the mouth?

When you have a disease in your mouth, may have obvious symptoms such as pain or you may not have any symptoms at all. A routine check up is recommended. If you experience any of the following symptoms, an examination by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is recommended.

  • Oral Pain
  • Swelling
  • Burning sensation
  • Gum Bleeding
  • Tongue, Oral and Mouth Ulcers
  • Growth – lump or bump
  • Change in sensation –numbness of the lip, chin, cheek, tongue
  • Change in taste
  • Asymmetry – enlargement of one side.
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth (trismus)

Clinical and radiographic evaluation is necessary. Early detection of the disease makes the surgical procedure more conservative and gives the patient more options for reconstruction.

What diseases do oral surgeons treat?

A diagnosis is made when a biopsy is taken. The tissue sample is sent to the lab and a pathologist looks at the sample with a microscope. The determination of treatment is made based on the type of disease you have. These are some of the common finding. The treatment depends on the severity of the disease.

  • Tumors of the jaw – Ameloblastoma, myxoma, calcifying epithelial odontogenic tumor (CEOT) etc
  • Cyst of the jaw – Dentigerous cyst, calcifying odontogenic cyst and more.
  • Salivary gland disease- stones in the duct, mucocele, ranula, salivary gland tumors, infection.
  • Lumps and bumps in the cheek- lipoma, fibroma, neruofibroma, schwannoma.
  • Tongue lesions - granular cell tumor, oral cancer.

Our dental specialists at Dental Implants & Oral Surgery of San Francisco are Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons who are experts in diagnosing and treating lesions in the mouth and jaw.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious disease of the mouth. There are many different types of oral cancers. The cancer process may start from the mouth or it may travel from a distant site (metastasis). The most common cancers that travel to the mouth are breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Some cancers are related to a viral infection such as human papilloma virus (HPV 16, 18) and human immunedeficiency virus (HIV). Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in the mouth. Risk factors of these include the use to tobacco. Signs can include ulceration, bleeding of gums, loosening of teeth, fast growing lesion, numbness of the face and pain. If you have a risk factor, routine exams are critical and early detection improves the prognosis of the disease process.