1342 Farrow Pkwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577  

James E. Mills, DDS & Associates

(843) 293-6700
 

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(843) 293-6700
Fax: (843) 293-6740

1342 Farrow Pkwy
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Dental exam.When you come into the dental office for an examination, you might assume that the focus is on your teeth. That's often correct — but don't forget that there are a number of other parts of the oral and facial anatomy that are examined as well. These include areas around and inside the mouth (such as the lips, gums, hard and soft palate, and the tongue) as well as outside the mouth (the skin, muscles and glands in the neck, and the temporomandibular joint). In fact, when it comes to detecting certain oral or systemic (whole-body) diseases, a thorough dental exam may be your first line of defense.

How are diseases in the mouth discovered? Most of the time, it's simple: You will be asked about any changes you have noticed, or symptoms you may be experiencing. Your face, mouth, and neck will then be visually inspected, and certain areas may be palpated (gently touched or pressed with fingers) or probed (touched with a small instrument). If needed, additional tests or diagnostic imaging (X-rays or other methods) may be used to aid in diagnosis.

Occasionally, an abnormality such as a lesion (an unusual localized change in your tissues) is found that needs to be examined further. Lesions may resemble white or red spots or lumps (tumors), but they are typically benign. However, it is often better to err on the side of caution and perform a biopsy to be sure. This may involve making a small incision and removing a part of the suspicious area. The tissue sample will be sent to a pathologist, who examines it under a microscope for signs of disease.

Some Oral Diseases To Look For

Oral diagnosis and biopsies.Oral cancer is perhaps the most significant disease to look for in an examination — both because it can be life-threatening, and because early detection is proven to increase the survival rate. But it's important to remember that a large majority of unusual growths are found to be benign. Some other oral diseases that may be screened for include:

  • Fibroma, a thickened mass that may feel like a lump in the lining of the mouth.
  • Leukoplakia, a condition that causes white patches to form inside the mouth. While usually benign, the lesions may be precancerous and are often biopsied.
  • Lichen Planus, an inflammatory disease that sometimes causes discomfort.
  • Mucous Membrane Pemphigoid, an autoimmune disease that may cause oral lesions, but is not life threatening.
  • “Pregnancy Tumors,” benign red swellings that may form on gum tissue of pregnant women due to hormonal changes.

In addition, some systemic diseases (such as diabetes, Crohn's disease, and heart disease) may produce effects that can be observed in the mouth. We are always on the lookout for signs of these potentially serious conditions.

When a Biopsy Is Needed

Although the majority of oral lesions are benign, if there is any possibility that the growth could be cancerous or pre-cancerous, it's likely that a biopsy will be performed. Depending on how much tissue needs to be removed, this may be a simple in-office procedure, or it may be done in a hospital setting. Typically, the procedure requires only local anesthesia, and it doesn't take long. If incisions are made, they are often closed with self-dissolving sutures (stitches) that don't need to be removed.

Because the oral tissues are rich in blood vessels, some bleeding is normal for a period of time afterward. You will be given follow-up instructions as needed, including how to manage swelling and discomfort, when to take medication, and what to eat and drink. Getting some rest and maintaining good oral hygiene will also help you get back to normal as quickly as possible. When the pathology report is complete (usually in a few days), you will be given the results.

Related Articles

Oral Cancer - Dear Doctor Magazine

Oral Cancer This article may just save your life. Learn how to notice any unusual lesions (sores or ulcers) anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two-three weeks. Early detection is key... Read Article

Common Lumps - Dear Doctor Magazine

Common Lumps and Bumps in the Mouth As most of us know, the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips and tongue occasionally get in the way of our teeth and — chomp! If the same sore spot gets bitten repeatedly, a knot of fibrous tissue can develop. These lumps and bumps can easily be removed, and are often biopsied as a routine precaution... Read Article

Cold Sores - Dear Doctor Magazine

Cold Sores Cold sores are a vexing problem for many. They are caused by a highly contagious strain of the herpes virus that can sometimes thwart the body's immune system. The resulting blisters can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Over the past two decades, antiviral medications have been developed to help prevent outbreaks and speed healing... Read Article


James E. Mills, DDS & associates

Read more about our Doctors

Dr. Robert V. Carimi

Dr. Robert V. Carimi is originally from Memphis, TN and has been practicing dentistry for 10 years. He earned his dental degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Dentistry. Prior to entering private practice, he completed advanced training in surgical techniques at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis, TN. Dr. Carimi also engages in ongoing continuing education, which allows him to provide patients with the latest advances in dentistry.

He enjoys blending the artistry and science of dentistry to change people’s lives. Dr. Carimi has been practicing in the Charleston area for the past 5 years. He and his wife, Brittney reside in Mt. Pleasant and have three daughters, Holland, Sutton and Macayle. They are active members at Christ Our King-Stella Maris School and St. Benedict Catholic Church. 
Dr. Carimi's hobbies include photography, relaxing at the beach with his family, engaging in outdoor activities and traveling. 

 

Dr. John P. Finucane

Dr. John P. Finucane, who is originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has been practicing dentistry for 44 years. He earned his dental degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee.  Aside from general dentistry, Dr. Finucane focusses on serving patients with removable dentures as he completed a three year residency program in that modality.  Dr. Finucane has been married for 42 years, and currently resides in Pawleys Island.  He has two adult sons, two grandchildren, two dogs, and two cats, and enjoys photography and music.

Questions or Comments?
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