Oral Pathology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the hard tissues (teeth and jaws) and soft tissues (gums, mucous membranes, tongue and lips) of the oral cavity, and the structures attached (salivary glands).
When a suspicious lesion is found, a biopsy may be advised, to arrive at a specific histological diagnosis and assess its possible malignancy.
Oral lesions should be closely observed by the Dentist. They can be local or correspond to signs of systemic diseases with multiple causes, including reaction, infectious, immunologic, neoplastic or hereditary:
- The vast majority of oral cavity lesions are traumatic, reflecting a reaction of the tissues to damaging agents, either mechanical, physical, chemical or thermal. Fibrous hyperplasia, traumatic ulcers, burns, amalgam tattoos or exfoliative cheilitis are some examples of this type of injury;
- Infections of the oral cavity can be due to bacteria, fungi, viruses or protozoa. Candida albicans and herpetic lesions (Herpes Simplex Virus), are the most common fungal and viral infections;
- Many diseases of the oral tissues have an immunological foundation and may be allergic or autoimmune disorders of the oral mucosa (eg. pemphigus, pemphigoid, lupus, erythema multiforme or lichen planus);
- Tumors of the oral cavity may have conjunctival or epithelial origin. They are divided into benign and malignant neoplasms. Hemangiomas, lymphangiomas, lipomas and neuromas are examples of benign tumors of conjunctival origin. The pavement - cell carcinoma is the most common malignancy, having its origin in the epithelial lining of the oral cavity;
- Finally, some diseases affecting the oral cavity are not acquired and have an important genetic component. White sponge nevus is an example of entities whose transmission is hereditary.