Oral soft tissue diseases
The diseases that affect the soft tissues of the oral cavity are collectively termed as oral soft tissue diseases. These occur primarily due to various systemic diseases in our body. Among the different manifestations of systemic diseases, oral soft tissues are also affected. There are a few systemic diseases that show their initial symptoms in the oral cavity itself. One such example is Koplik’s spots. These are little red spots that signify the early stages of measles. Even before rashes appear all throughout the body, Koplik’s spots appear on the buccal mucosa primarily just opposite to the upper molars and hence are considered to be the primary diagnostic feature in case of measles. There are yet other systemic diseases that are not very distinct and overlap with oral manifestations of other diseases as well. Then the task of diagnosis becomes all the more difficult.
The individuals suffering from oral soft tissue diseases have some symptoms in common. They are-
- There is a burning sensation in the oral mucosa and you may find it difficult or overtly sensitive to consume very hot or spicy foods or beverages.
- You may find your mouth getting dry quite often.
- You may feel a bad or weird taste in your mouth.
- For some people, the mouth opening becomes difficult.
- There is a constant feeling of pain that may range from mild to moderate form.
- The normal color inside the mouth changes to either white or red or even dark due to a rise in pigmentation.
- The tissues start losing their normal texture.
- The soft tissues tend to show enlargements or start thickening thereby reflecting a marked change in the consistency of the tissues.
Oral soft tissue diseases can be due to various reasons like-
- Trauma- A retention cyst is a perfect example of a soft tissue lesion occurring due to trauma or bite injury.
- Virus- Recurrent herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes type I virus and leads to formation of cold sores most often on the lower lip.
- Autoimmune diseases- Lichen planus and pemphigus are two very common autoimmune disorders that produce painful blisters all throughout the mouth. Lupus Erythematosus is another example of an autoimmune disorder that predominantly occurs in young women and women in middle-age.
As far as the diagnosis of oral soft tissue disease is concerned, a thorough examination with a detailed medical as well as dental history is required. For accuracy purposes, extra diagnostic tests are conducted which includes incisional biopsy (only a part of the lesion is removed which must have a part of the normal tissue as well) and excisional biopsy (the whole lesion is removed from the body and the tissues are studied microscopically).
Once diagnosis is made the doctor sets a treatment plan which includes palliative care mostly. Specific mouth rinses are prescribed to control pain and discomfort. Anesthetic gels can also be of great use. Treatment plans do have individual variations depending on the nature of the disease.