Dentists routinely perform oral health examinations during initial comprehensive assessments or during regular check-up appointments. They sometimes find it necessary to refer patients on to oral surgeons for further examination and management of soft or hard tissue abnormalities. Soft tissue lesions generally involve ulcers, patches, bumps, and discoloration on the gingivae (gums), palate, lips, cheek, tongue or salivary glands. Hard tissue pathology refers to changes in the teeth or jaw bone. Radiographic imagery is often required to reveal the presence of hard tissue or bone lesions.
The dentist and/or oral surgeon may look for the following pathologic signs: