No two mouths look identical. Of course, the teeth can be made to appear similar, but the soft tissues that line the mouth and face are impossible to duplicate. This is why it can be so difficult to assess your own mouth for the signs and symptoms of a health problem. With an untrained eye, every groove, mark, and opening can look unusual. The matter becomes even more complicated when you begin to compare your own oral anatomy to that of your friend, sibling, or spouse.
Your oral surgeon is trained to identify normal and abnormal anatomy and pathology of the head, mouth and neck; taking into account the factors that can make oral conditions appear similar or different when comparing one patient to the next. Many oral lesions are categorized by names that describe their clinical or histological characteristics. Understanding these terms, names, and descriptions will help you to understand the first step of the diagnostic process: the differential diagnosis (the most likely condition, given the circumstances).
Lesions around the face, head, mouth, and neck might be referred to as pits, fistulae, or draining, describing the fact that they represent an opening in the tissue.
The term “fistula” comes from the Latin word meaning reed instrument or pipe, and describes an abnormal pathway which allows for communication from one anatomic cavity to another. A true fistula will have two openings, although the word “sinus” is sometimes used to describe a pathway with only one opening. A sinus is typically associated with a draining lesion, having only one opening. For the purpose of defining the location of the fistula, your oral surgeon may describe it according to where the opening is located.
While fistulas and draining lesions may or may not be associated with pain, they can indicate a serious underlying problem. For infections or abscesses in the gums, teeth, or bone, this opening serves as a temporary release valve for pus or blood. Even if the opening is not immediately visible, most patients report the presence of a bad taste or bad breath.
The term “pit” describes a hollow opening or indentation that may be due to normal oral anatomy or various defects.
It takes a professional to differentiate between the various openings in the oral cavity, and oral surgery is sometimes required to correct the condition. For any oral or facial pathology, diagnosis and biopsy find out more by calling ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio at 312-328-9000 in downtown Chicago to schedule your appointment today.