Heart of Texas Oral Surgery Logo

Oral Pathology: Insight from a Maxillofacial Surgeon in Austin

Oral Pathology Image

Every dentist encourages their patients to be smart about their oral hygiene. Patients are told to keep up with brushing, make sure to floss more, invest in proper nutrition, and maintain twice-a-year or more professional cleanings. An effective dental hygiene routine is the greatest way to ward off diseases.

That being said, there are many diseases that could affect your oral and maxillofacial regions. Several of these are common and benign, such as cold sores and canker sores. But others can be a real detriment to the quality of your life. And, unfortunately, sometimes even the healthiest of people experience unusual, painful symptoms. Learn from a maxillofacial surgeon in Austin about the dentistry specialty of oral pathology.

What does an oral pathologist do?

Oral pathology involves the identification and management of oral diseases. These include diseases on your tongue, teeth, gums, salivary glands, mucosa (inner lining of the mouth), and perioral skin (skin surrounding the mouth). The job of an oral pathologist is to determine the cause of a disease so that a patient does not experience more serious problems in the future. If you are going to your regular cleanings, your dentist should be able to catch signs of disease early on. Oral pathologists also are trained to deal with a range of disorders, such as TMJ disorder and Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis).

What are some examples of oral diseases?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that close to 3.5 billion people worldwide are affected by oral diseases. Three out of four of these affected individuals live in middle-income countries. Keeping in mind the variety of risk factors that an individual can have, let’s take a look at four oral health conditions.

  • Tooth decay (cavities): Brushing and flossing factor into preventing cavities. However, because of your tooth anatomy, it could be more of a challenge to reach certain parts of your teeth, resulting in plaque and bacteria build-up. Your diet will also influence whether you get cavities. If you sip or snack on sweets throughout the day, your chance of tooth decay increases.
  • Periodontitis (gum disease): When you let a gum infection go unchecked, it turns into periodontitis which damages your soft tissue. If you continue to go without treatment, you risk destroying the bone that supports your teeth. You could even lose your teeth due to gum disease. With that in mind, every maxillofacial surgeon in Austin agrees that healthy gums are critical to your overall oral health.
  • Candidiasis (thrush): When you get red bumps and white patches on your mouth and throat, that may be a fungal infection. Although thrush happens most frequently in toddlers and children, it can affect anyone. You will need to be prescribed antifungal medications to treat it. Those with weakened immune systems are more at risk to catch thrush, despite it not being particularly contagious.
  • Oral cancer: Accounting for approximately 3% of all cancer diagnoses, oral cancer affects twice as many men as women. There are five primary causes of oral cancer—unprotected sun exposure to your lips, HPV, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and advanced age. If symptoms of soreness, irritation, and lumps persist for more than two weeks, you must see a dental or medical professional.

What is an oral biopsy?

Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Austin will perform a thorough clinical and radiographic exam prior to receiving an oral biopsy. An oral biopsy is a surgical procedure that obtains tissue from your oral cavity. This is done when a growth, sore, or lesion in the mouth is of questionable nature. The biopsy is then sent to a pathology lab for diagnosis.

Which technologies are used by dental professionals?

In the modern age of dentistry and pathology, cutting-edge tools and techniques are ever-growing. Year after year, we are finding ways to improve diagnosis and treatment plans. Here are some of the technologies that a maxillofacial surgeon in Austin is familiar with.

  • Digital imaging
  • Bone grafting
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Intraoral camera
  • Soft tissue lasers

When should you consult a maxillofacial surgeon in Austin?

Before all else, you need to have a conversation with your dentist when you start experiencing discomfort. This includes pain in your jaw, teeth, or gums. It may be a bigger problem than you think it to be. After finding signs of disease, your dentist will be able to point you in the direction of a specialist to take care of your complex case. A maxillofacial surgeon in Austin provides a full spectrum of surgical and non-surgical procedures. These surgeons are highly trained during their hospital-based residency program, with training focused on your facial muscles and bones.


Here in the heart of Texas at Lake Travis Oral Surgery and Bastrop Oral Surgery, we have a wide range of specialties. These include TMJ pain disorders, denture preparation, and wisdom teeth removal surgery. As a professional maxillofacial surgeon in Austin, six additional years of hospital-based surgical and anesthesia training were required of us. That means we are very familiar with the importance of providing unique treatment plans in a comfortable environment. We want to hear from you about your dental needs, especially if you have been enduring any recent pain.