Head and Neck Pathology

Oral / Head & Neck Pathology General Information

Head and Neck PathologyHead and neck pathology encompasses a wide range of both malignant and benign diseases that involve both hard and soft tissues of the head and neck region. Head and neck pathology includes both surgical and non-surgical diseases. Many of these conditions have systemic effects, which can impact a person’s general state of health.

The inside of our mouth is lined with a special type of skin called “mucosa”. This mucosa is usually smooth and pink in color. Any condition that is a deviation from the normal appearance could be a warning sign for disease or a pathological process. Oral cancer is usually the most serious of these oral diseases.

The following can be signs to look for at the beginning of a disease process or cancerous growth:

  • Red or white areas or patches on the oral mucosa (called erythroplasia or leukoplakia)
  • Chronic sore throat or changes in speech
  • Swallowing or chewing difficulties
  • Slowly healing or non-healing sores
  • Areas that bleed easily
  • Lumps, bumps or thickening of the lining (mucosa) inside the mouth
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Color changes of tissue
  • Altered sensation

Our doctors are trained in diagnosing and treating both benign and malignant lesions of the oral and maxillofacial region. In addition to being dentists, physicians, and oral & maxillofacial surgeons, our doctors have received additional training in head and neck oncology (cancer) and reconstruction. Once an appropriate history is reviewed during your consult, and after a clinical exam and review of your history, your doctor may order additional tests such as blood work and imaging (Ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI) . When indicated, they may perform a tissue biopsy in order to make a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been established, they will explain the diagnosis in detail and will answer any questions you may have concerning the diagnosis. Further treatment recommendations may be either surgical or non-surgical.

Head and neck lesions that he evaluates and treats include, but are not restricted to:

  • Oral cancer
  • Benign aggressive tumors of the jaw
  • Benign non-aggressive tumors of the jaw
  • Benign non-aggressive cysts of the jaw
  • Benign aggressive cysts of the jaw
  • Growths of tooth origin
  • Salivary gland disorders
  • Facial Infections
  • Maxillofacial manifestations of systemic and immune mediated disorders
  • Facial pain conditions

Post-Operative Oral Biopsy Instructions

Pain Management

Some amount of discomfort may accompany this type of procedure. Over the counter medications like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Tylenol can be used for pain management. Take the pain medication as directed.


Some swelling may accompany your biopsy. In order to limit swelling, ice packs may be used for the first 24 hours after the procedure. Use ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.


You may have difficulty feeling your lips, cheeks or tongue due to numbness. This is a temporary feeling and will wear off within 2-4hrs. Please take care not to bite your lips, cheeks or gums.


If sutures were placed, they will dissolve in approximately 3-5 days.


Start with nourishing liquids and soft foods. Gradually return to your normal diet as tolerated. Avoid extreme hot foods or spicy food as this may irritate the site.

Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene remains essential after your procedure. Brush your teeth and gums as you would normally do. Be gentle and take caution to avoid irritating the procedure site. The day after your procedure begin to gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water rinses (1/4 tsp, 8oz water) after meals and at bedtime.


Oozing from the biopsy site is normal for the first 24hrs. You may use gauze to gently apply pressure to the biopsy site for 30 minutes to control bleeding. If excess bleeding persists please contact the office (403) 948-9598. Avoid sucking through a straw for the first 24hrs. Do not rinse or spit the day of surgery, as this may prolong the bleeding.


Do not smoke or use tobacco products for at least 3 days following the procedure.


Your well-being is our primary concern and it is our sincere desire that you experience the least possible amount of discomfort and anxiety. Should you have any questions regarding your recovery, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (403) 948-9598.


If any unusual symptoms should occur please call our office at (403) 948-9598. If you are calling after our office hours or on the weekend, the answering machine will direct you to the oral surgeon on-call. In the event of an unexpected admission to a hospital from a treatment performed at our facility, please notify us.