What is oral pathology?

Oral cancer screening is usually performed during a routine dental visit, is a painless exam and only takes a few minutes to complete. Dentists and hygienists will examine the soft tissue in your mouth and look for any changes that might be indicative of cancerous or precancerous lesions. If such changes are present, you might get referred to our M3L practice for a consultation.

Oral pathology is concerned with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the mouth and jaw areas. Dr. El-Hakim, Dr. Makhoul and Dr. Gigliotti have years of experience managing a wide variety of pathologies associated with the oral and maxillofacial space.

Most of the time, patients are directly referred to the Maxillo 3 Lacs clinic by their physician or dentist for the management of soft or hard tissue abnormalities.

Most of the time, patients are directly referred to the Maxillo 3 Lacs clinic by their physician or dentist for the management of soft or hard tissue abnormalities.

Soft tissue lesions generally involve:

  • Ulcers
  • Patches
  • Bumps
  • Changes in the colour of gums, lips, cheek, tongue
Hard tissue pathology, on the other hand, encompasses conditions affecting teeth and bone.

Where to detect possible changes?

  • Lips
  • Cheeks
  • Palate
  • Gum tissue
  • Around the teeth
  • Tongue
  • Face
  • Neck
Teeth or bone lesions can go unnoticed by patients until a radiographic image brings their existence to light. At the Maxillo 3 Lacs clinic, patients can rest assured that with our 3-D cone beam CT scanner, we have the best dental imaging suite available to help in their diagnosis.

The following can be signs of an early pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches in the mouth
  • Whitish patches in the mouth
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing

Painless and accurate diagnosis

When tissue changes are found, they do not always mean cancer, but should always be evaluated as soon as possible. Pain is not often associated with oral cancer, however, any patient who suffers from facial or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason should be evaluated.

If a suspicious area is detected by your dentist, the M3L oral and maxillofacial surgical team will evaluate the area for a possible biopsy in order to carefully remove a small sample of the lesion and submit it to an oral pathologist. The pathologist will then examine the lesion meticulously under a microscope to determine the underlying diagnosis. Most of the small lesions in the oral cavity are usually the consequence of a mechanical trauma (cheek biting), a bad habit like smoking, or is the result of a congenital defect. The biopsy allows for an accurate diagnosis and will enable your doctor to give you recommendations based on the pathology report.

Most of our oral surgery procedures are performed in our state-of-the-art M3L surgical facility in Vaudreuil-Dorion under local anesthesia or sedation. However, full general anesthesia is also available when necessary with our board-certified anesthesiologist.

Remember: patients’ safety, comfort, and privacy always remain our primary concerns.

Risk factors that contribute to cancer

Research has identified a number of potential factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer:

  • Tobacco.
    • Those who are especially at high risk of developing oral cancer are those over 40 years of age, heavy drinkers and smokers, or users of smokeless tobacco, including snuff. Studies have shown that the death rate from oral cancer is about four times higher for cigarette smokers than for nonsmokers.
  • Alcohol
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Chronic infections

The importance of performing a monthly self-exam

Dr. El-Hakim, Dr. Makhoul and Dr. Gigliotti strongly encourage performing self-examinations monthly to aid in early recognition of potential oral or maxillofacial conditions as well as going to your routine dental screening every 6 months. If you are at high risk for oral cancer you should see your general dentist or a member of the Maxillo 3 Lacs’ team for an annual exam as soon as possible.

An oral, self-examination, is performed the following way:

  1. Use a bright light and a mirror
  2. Remove all of your dentures carefully
  3. Take a look and use your fingers to gently feel inside the lips and the front gums
  4. Tilt your head backward to better inspect and feel the roof of your mouth
  5. Pull your cheeks out on both sides to see the inside surface as well as the back of the gums
  6. Pull out your tongue and look at its surface
  7. Carefully feel for abnormal lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) on both sides of your neck and lower jaw
Because the mouth is a region where changes can be easily seen, oral cancer can be detected in its early stages. Performing a self-examination regularly will help in the early recognition and detection of oral cancer and increase the chances for a cure. If your M3L oral and maxillofacial surgeon thinks that something is suspicious, a biopsy will be recommended.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Dr.El-Hakim, Dr. Makhoul or Dr. Gigliotti if you have any of these signs. If you are experiencing any pain or symptoms that cause you concern, if you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment at M3L please contact us at Maxillo 3 Lacs today. Our office staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and here to provide you with the oral and maxillofacial care you deserve.

Implantology and Maxillofacial Surgery Center

We accept new patients without a referral