A Guide to Oral Pathology for Students in Dental Hygienist Training

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Maintaining good oral hygiene is more than just keeping our teeth sparkling white and our breath minty fresh. Regular flossing, teeth brushing, and dentist visits also protect against oral diseases.

Oral pathology is the study, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases. This includes issues affecting the teeth, jaw, tongue, and mouth. As a dental hygienist, you will be able to help clients maintain good oral hygiene in order to prevent oral diseases.

Read on to find out more about oral pathology.

Help Clients Avoid Contracting Oral Diseases in Your Dental Hygiene Career

One of the main ways that you will help clients with regards to oral pathology in your dental hygiene career is through preventative measures. Dental hygienists will clean and examine clients’ teeth, but will also encourage clients to look after their mouth and teeth themselves by educating them about good oral hygiene. This includes brushing teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, replacing toothbrushes every three months, as well as daily flossing, and tongue brushing. Having this kind of routine will reduce the likelihood of contracting common oral diseases like oral cancer, gum disease and tooth decay.

The Most Common Oral Diseases and Symptoms

At dental hygienist school, you will learn about oral pathology and some of the most common diseases clients are likely to get. One of these is the Herpes Simplex Virus. This virus results in blisters and cold sores inside and outside the mouth. Clients may also suffer from swollen glands and fever-like symptoms. Unfortunately, even when the symptoms go, the virus may still remain inactive in a client’s body. Symptoms could reappear with stress, illness, or sun exposure.

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Herpes Simplex Virus can cause blisters and cold sores in the mouth and on the lips and face

Another common oral disease is Candidiasis or Thrush. This is most common in babies, the elderly, and those with weaker immune systems. It is caused by overgrowth of the Candida fungus and results in white patches in the mouth, which become red and inflamed when touched. These are also easily treated with antifungal medicines.

Another common disease is Black Hairy Tongue. As the name suggests, this makes the tongue appear to be black and hairy, as the papillae on the tongue’s surface grow beyond their 1mm length. This can be caused by smoking or radiation treatment like chemotherapy. Despite its unappealing appearance, it is easily treated with good oral hygiene and a tongue scraper.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most serious oral diseases and can be life-threatening if it’s not diagnosed quickly enough. It can affect the lips, tongue, inner cheek, gums, floor of the mouth, and the hard and soft palate. Dental professionals should check clients for unusual sores or lumps in the mouth, as this is one of the most obvious symptoms of the disease.

Once oral cancer has been diagnosed by a doctor with an X-ray, biopsy, or another type of scan, clients should be advised to stop smoking and drinking alcohol, as these are contributing factors.

Oral cancer can then be treated with surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, lymph nodes, and tissue. Doctors may also recommend ration therapy or chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells.

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