PANCE Blueprint EENT (7%)

Oropharyngeal disorders (PEARLS)

NCCPA™ PANCE EENT Content Blueprint ⇒ Oropharyngeal disorders

Diseases of the teeth and gums (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Dental abscess)
Patient will present as → a 25-year-old HIV-positive male with pain associated with his gums. He has also noted bleeding of his gums when he brushes his teeth. On physical exam, you observe a bright erythematous line along the gingival margin. (gingivitis)
  • Gingivitis: the patient should be counseled about increased risk for cardiovascular events.
  • Gingival Hyperplasia: Overgrowing of gums so that it blocks the teeth, commonly caused by medications: phenytoin, CCBs, and cyclosporine.
  • Vincent's Angina: “Trench Mouth” necrotizing gingivitis: characterized by the “punched-out” appearance of the gingival papillae.
  • Dental abscessPoor dental health is a risk factor for dental abscess or facial cellulitis. Treat with IM ceftriaxone and amoxicillin.
Patient will present as → a 40-year-old female presents with rapid onset of lip, tongue, and throat swelling, with difficulty breathing and swallowing. She was recently started on an ACE inhibitor for hypertension. Examination reveals marked swelling of the lips and tongue with mild stridor, but no rash. The presentation suggests ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema. Immediate treatment includes discontinuation of the ACE inhibitor, and administration of subcutaneous epinephrine, intravenous corticosteroids, and antihistamines. The patient is monitored for airway compromise and prepared for possible intubation. She is advised to avoid ACE inhibitors and is switched to an alternative antihypertensive medication. Follow-up includes referral to an allergist.

Angioedema is localized swelling of the deeper layers of the skin and mucous membranes due to increased vascular permeability

  • Non-pitting, non-itchy swelling typically affecting the face, lips, tongue, and throat
  • Can involve the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, causing difficulty breathing or abdominal pain
  • Common causes include allergic reactions, medications (especially ACE inhibitors), hereditary angioedema (C1 inhibitor deficiency), and idiopathic
  • Rapid onset and can be life-threatening if airway obstruction occurs
  • Hereditary angioedema presents with recurrent episodes and may not respond to typical allergy treatments

DX: Diagnosed clinically, but C4 and C1 inhibitor levels can help diagnose hereditary angioedema

TX: Immediate management includes securing the airway and treating allergic causes with epinephrine, antihistamines, and corticosteroids

  • C1 inhibitor concentrate or bradykinin receptor antagonists for hereditary angioedema


Angioedema of the tongue

Aphthous ulcers (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Aphthous ulcers)
Patient will present as → a 22-year-old complaining of a painful sore for 2 days.  He denies any alcohol or tobacco use and otherwise feels fine. The examination is significant for a 2-mm round ulceration with a yellow-gray center surrounded by a red halo on the left buccal mucosa

Single or multiple small, shallow ulcers with a yellow-gray fibrinoid center with red halos

DX: Diagnosis is made by history and clinical presentation

  • Biopsy should be considered for ulcers lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Rule out an oral manifestation of systemic disease: More likely if persists >3 wk or associated with constitutional symptoms.  Focus on symptoms of eyes, mouth, genitalia, skin, GI tract, allergy, diet history, and physical exam

TX: viscous lidocaine 2–5% applied to ulcer QID after meals until healed

Candidiasis (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Oral Candidiasis)
Patient will present as → a 3-week-old infant with decreased appetite and a rash in her mouth. On physical exam, you note white plaques on her tongue that scrape off with a tongue depressor and bleed slightly. Potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation of the scrapings demonstrates budding yeasts with hyphae.

Immunocompromised, young patients

  • Painful, white, fluffy patches that can be scraped off and may bleed when scraped (candidiasis can "come off"), leaving an erythematous, friable base

DX: Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) prep for diagnosis

TX: Antifungals, which are available in several forms (i.e., ketoconazole or fluconazole orally, clotrimazole troches, nystatin liquid rinses)

Deep neck infection
Patient will present as → a 51-year-old male patient who underwent extraction of the mandibular right third molar. Seven days after the surgery, the patient developed facial edema, fever, intraoral purulent discharge, and extreme local pain.  Infectious cavities in the right and left submandibular, pterygomandibular, and pharyngeal regions were observed on computed tomography scans.

Deep neck space infections most commonly arise from a septic focus of the mandibular teeth, tonsils, parotid gland, deep cervical lymph nodes, middle ear, or sinuses

  • Classic manifestations of these infections include high fever, systemic toxicity, and local signs of erythema, edema, and fluctuance
  • The most common organisms isolated from deep neck space infections are viridans streptococci

DX: Computed tomography (CT) is the imaging modality of choice for the diagnosis of deep neck space infection

  • MRI is useful for assessing the extent of soft tissue involvement and for delineating vascular complications

TX: Antibiotics, aspiration, or surgical drainage should be performed

Minor trauma triggering cervicofacial necrotizing fasciitis from an odontogenic abscess. Image by Jain S, Nagpure PS, Singh R, Garg D - CC 2.0

Dental abscess
Patient will present as → a 30-year-old female presents with a severe toothache, swelling, and difficulty chewing for three days. She has a throbbing pain localized to the lower left molar, cheek swelling, and a bad taste in her mouth, along with a low-grade fever. Examination reveals a swollen, erythematous area around the lower left molar with fluctuance and purulent discharge. She is diagnosed with a dental abscess. Treatment includes incision and drainage, oral antibiotics (amoxicillin or clindamycin), and warm saltwater rinses. She is referred to a dentist for definitive care such as a root canal or extraction. Pain is managed with NSAIDs or acetaminophen, and follow-up is scheduled to ensure resolution and further dental treatment.

Dental Abscess is a localized collection of pus in the teeth or gums due to bacterial infection.

  • Caused by dental caries, trauma, or periodontal disease
  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that may radiate to the jaw, neck, or ear
  • Swelling in the face or cheek, tender lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck
  • Fever, bad breath, and difficulty swallowing or opening the mouth
  • The most common causative organisms are streptococci, staphylococci, and anaerobic bacteria

DX: clinical examination and dental X-rays

TX: Treatment involves draining the abscess via incision and drainage or root canal, antibiotics (e.g., amoxicillin, clindamycin), and pain management (e.g., NSAIDs)

  • Complications can include spread of infection to surrounding tissues, leading to cellulitis or osteomyelitis, and systemic involvement such as sepsis
  • Preventive measures include good oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, and prompt treatment of dental caries and periodontal disease

Cracked tooth lateral periodontal abscess

A crack (vertical fracture) in the tooth and root (green arrows) has split it into two even pieces, causing a lateral periodontal abscess (blue arrows).

Dental Caries Dental Caries is the decay of tooth enamel and dentin caused by bacterial activity

  • The primary causative bacteria are Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus species
  • Risk factors include poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks, and reduced salivary flow
  • Presents as white spots, brown spots, or visible holes on the tooth surface; may cause tooth pain or sensitivity

DX: Based on visual inspection, dental radiographs, and clinical examination

TX: Ranges from fluoride applications for early lesions to dental fillings, crowns, or root canals for more advanced decay

  • Preventive measures include regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and dietary modifications
  • Severe cases may require tooth extraction if the decay is extensive
"If drinking water is not adequately fluoridated, oral fluoride supplements are recommended for children from 6 months through 16 years."

© barks / Adobe Stock

Patient will present as → a 3-year-old who is brought into the emergency room by her parents. The child has had a high fever, sore throat, and stridor. She has a muffled voice and is sitting up on the stretcher, drooling while leaning forward with her neck extended. The patient’s parents are adamantly against vaccinations, claiming that they are a “government conspiracy.” You order a lateral neck x-ray, which shows a swollen epiglottis. The patient recovered following treatment with prednisone and ceftriaxone.

Unvaccinated patient leaning forward, drooling, stridor, and distress (tripod position and muffled voice)

  • H. influenza type B (Hib)

DX: Lateral radiograph: Thumbprint sign

TX: Secure airway, admit, IV Ceftriaxone, and IV fluids

Patient will present as → a 30-year-old female with bleeding gums while brushing, persistent bad breath, and a metallic taste in her mouth. She notes her gums are red and swollen and admits to inconsistent oral hygiene. Examination reveals erythematous, swollen gums that bleed on probing and plaque buildup. The diagnosis of gingivitis is made. Management includes a professional dental cleaning and education on proper oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and antiseptic mouthwash. She is advised to have regular dental check-ups every six months. Follow-up is scheduled to monitor improvement and prevent progression to periodontitis.

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva (gums) caused by plaque accumulation

  • Characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Caused by poor oral hygiene, leading to plaque buildup and bacterial colonization
  • Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, certain medications, hormonal changes (e.g., pregnancy, puberty), and systemic diseases
  • Symptoms include tender gums, bad breath (halitosis), and gum recession

DX: Clinical examination by a dentist or periodontist, observing signs of inflammation and measuring periodontal pockets

TX: Dental cleaning, improved oral hygiene practices, and address underlying conditions or risk factors

  • Preventive measures include good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings



Oral herpes simplex (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Oral herpes simplex)
Patient will present as → a 17-year-old female complaining of a painful rash on her cheek. She says that it has come and gone a few times before and that she usually can feel itching and a tingling discomfort before a break out of the lesions. On physical exam, you observe clusters of small, tense vesicles on an erythematous base.

HSV type 1, vesicular lesions all in the same stage of development, a prodromal period of tingling discomfort or itching

DX: Diagnosis is clinical; laboratory confirmation by culture, PCR, direct immunofluorescence, or serologic testing can be done

TX: Symptomatic treatment with antipyretics and analgesia is recommended. IV hydration is sometimes needed in cases of decreased oral intake

  • Oral acyclovir (15 mg/kg/dose five times per day for 7–10 days; max 200 mg per dose) may decrease the duration of illness if started within 72 hours at the onset of symptoms

Patient will present as → a 27-year-old mezzo-soprano who states that she developed acute hoarseness 2 days ago. Prior to that, she had a cold, the symptoms of which are improving. There is no history of smoking or other tobacco use. She is very worried as she has an upcoming performance 3 days from now.

Almost always viral, hoarseness following a URI

  •, H.flu
  • Consider squamous cell carcinoma if hoarseness persists > 2 weeks, history of ETOH and or smoking
  • Absence of pain or sore throat

DX: clinical diagnosis ⇒ laryngoscopy is required for symptoms persisting > 3 wk

TX: Relax voice (vocal rest), supportive therapy

  • Oral or IM corticosteroids may also hasten recovery for performers but requires vocal fold evaluation before starting therapy
  • Bacterial → erythromycin, cefuroxime, or Augmentin for cough or hoarseness
Peritonsillar abscess (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Peritonsillar abscess)
Patient will present as → a 19-year-old male who you are seeing for follow-up from the urgent care where he was seen 2 days earlier with a sore throat. The patient is febrile (102°F)has a muffled (hot potato) voice, and has extreme difficulty opening his mouth (trismus). He opens it just far enough for you to note uvular deviation.

Presents with a severe sore throat, lateral uvula displacement, bulging tonsillar pillar

  • Hot potato (muffled) voice and deviation of the uvula to one side
  • + Streptococcus pyogenes

DX: Xray, CT, or ultrasound of the neck if the diagnosis is in doubt, particularly when the condition must be differentiated from a parapharyngeal infection or other deep neck infection

  • All such patients require needle aspiration of the tonsillar mass and cultures. Aspiration of pus differentiates abscess from cellulitis

TX: Aspiration, incision and drainage, and/or antibiotics

  • Parenteral amoxicillin, amoxicillin-sulbactam, and clindamycin
  • In less severe cases, oral antibiotics can be used for 7 to 10 days (i.e., amoxicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, clindamycin)
  • Tonsillectomy may also be considered in about 10% of patients

Pharyngitis (ReelDx)
ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Acute pharyngitis)
Patient will present as → a 7-year-old boy is brought to his pediatrician for evaluation of a sore throat. The sore throat began 4 days ago and has progressively worsened. Associated symptoms include subjective fever, pain with swallowing, and fatigue. The patient denies cough or rhinorrhea. Vital signs are as follows: T 101.4 F, HR 88, BP 115/67, RR 14, and SpO2 99%. Physical examination is significant for purulent tonsillar exudate; no cervical lymphadenopathy is noted.

Usually viral pharyngitis - adenovirus is the most common

  • Mononucleosis: Epstein Barr virus, fever, sore throat, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, atypical lymphocytes, + heterophile agglutination test (monospot)
  • Consider gonorrhea pharyngitis in patients with recent sexual encounters or with non-resolving pharyngitis
  • Fungal in patients using inhaled steroids
  • Group A Streptococcal pharyngitis: S. pyogenes

DX: Centor Score for Strep Pharyngitis (MDcalc): 1. Absence of a cough, 2. exudates, 3. fever (> 100.4 F), 4. cervical lymphadenopathy

  • If  3 out of 4 Centor criteria are met, get a rapid streptococcal test (sensitivity > 90%)
  • If negative → throat culture is the gold standard
  • NOT suggestive of strep are coryza, hoarseness, and cough


  • Viral: supportive
  • Mononucleosis: Symptomatic and avoid contact sports; antibiotics such as amoxicillin or ampicillin may cause a rash
  • Fungal: clotrimazole, miconazole, or nystatin
  • Group A Strep: Penicillin is first line, azithromycin if penicillin-allergic
    • Complications: Rheumatic fever and post-strep glomerulonephritis
  • Gonorrhea pharyngitis: follows the same principles for the approach to therapy of uncomplicated urogenital gonococcal infections
    • Ceftriaxone 500 mg IM as a single dose for persons weighing <150 kg (300 lb)
      • For persons weighing ≥150 kg (300 lb), 1 g of IM ceftriaxone should be administered
Patient will present as → a 39-year-old female complaining of episodic left-sided jaw pain and swelling. The symptoms are typically aggravated by eating or by the anticipation of eating. Over the last 2-days, the patient has been experiencing worsening pain, redness, and fever. On physical exam, the left salivary gland is exquisitely tender. High-resolution noncontrast computed tomography (CT) scanning reveals a left-sided salivary gland stone.  

Sialadenitis is a bacterial infection of a salivary gland usually caused by sialolithiasis, which is an obstructing stone in the salivary gland

  • Acute swelling of the cheek, which worsens with meals
  • etiology: S. aureus
  • It affects the parotid or submandibular gland, occurs with dehydration or chronic illness (Sjogren syndrome), ductal obstruction



  • CT, ultrasonography, or MRI can confirm sialadenitis or abscess that is not obvious clinically, although MRI may miss an obstructing stone
  • If pus can be expressed from the duct of the affected gland, it is sent for gram stain and culture


  • Clinical diagnosis is usually adequate, but sometimes CT, ultrasonography, or sialography are needed



Antibiotics: Initial treatment is with IV antibiotics active against S. aureus

  • With the increasing prevalence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus, especially among the elderly living in extended-care nursing facilities, vancomycin is often required.
  • Local measures (e.g., sialagogues, warm compresses): Hydration, sialagogues (e.g., lemon juice, hard candy, or some other substance that triggers saliva flow), warm compresses, gland massage, and good oral hygiene are also important. Abscesses require drainage.


  • Many stones pass spontaneously or with the use of sialagogues (e.g., tart, hard candies, lemon drops, Xylitol-containing gum, or candy to increase salivary flow) and manual expression
  • Some require endoscopic surgical removal or lithotripsy

ReelDx Virtual Rounds (Parotitis)
Patient will present as → an 11-year-old boy with malaise and swelling of his face.  He has no significant past medical history, but it is documented in his chart that his mother declined the recommended standard immunizations for children because of personal beliefs. Vital signs are stable, with the exception of a mild fever. In addition to the facial swelling, physical exam is also notable for swelling around the testes. There are no rashes.

Parotitis is an inflammation of one or both parotid glands, the major salivary glands located on either side of the face, in humans

  • Patients present with fever and chills, periauricular, mandibular pain, and swelling; trismus, dysphagia; purulent drainage
  • Viral ⇒ No discharge, prodrome followed by swelling lasting 5–10 days


  • Bacterial: S. aureus, most common
  • Viral: mumps, influenza, coxsackie, Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)
  • Autoinflammatory: sarcoidosis as part of Mikulicz syndrome

Mumps parotitis

  • Mumps is caused by a paramyxovirus. Likely in a child without a complete vaccination series. Transmitted via airborne droplets
  • Typically, it begins with a few days of fever, headache, myalgia, fatigue, and anorexia, followed by parotitis
  • In adult males, look for an associated orchitis

DX: often clinical

  • Sample purulent exudate, ultrasound-guided needle aspiration; culture, Gram stain
  • Ultrasound ⇒ increased blood flow through the gland, enlargement, nodules
  • CT scan ⇒ extension of inflammation to surrounding tissue
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Serum and urinary amylase rise during the first week of parotitis without underlying pancreatitis
  • Viral shows leukocytosis, increased IgM against mumps

TX: Self-limiting - treat with hydration and rest

  • Vaccination is effective for prevention
  • Contagious for 9 days after onset of parotid swelling

Patient will present as → a 42-year-old male with symptoms of the flu. On social history, the patient describes drinking 2-3 beers per day as well as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes per day. He is noted on physical exam to have a white plaque-like lesion on the side of the tongue, which could not be scraped off with a tongue depressor.

Oral leukoplakia is an oral potentially malignant disorder that presents as white patches of the oral mucosa that cannot be wiped off with gauze. (compare this to oral candidiasis)

  • Tobacco use (smoked and especially smokeless), alcohol abuse, HPV infections
  • Leukoplakia is in itself a benign and asymptomatic condition. However, some patients will eventually develop squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

DX: The diagnosis of leukoplakia is suspected in patients presenting with a white lesion of the oral mucosa that cannot be wiped off with gauze and that persists after eliminating potential etiologic factors, such as mechanical friction, for a six-week period

  • Biopsy is indicated for any undiagnosed leukoplakia

TX: For 2–3 circumscribed lesions, surgical excision

  • Destructive therapies (e.g., laser ablation, cryosurgery), medical therapies (e.g., retinoids, vitamin A, carotenoids, NSAIDs), and watchful waiting with close clinical and histologic follow-up
Patient will present as → a 42-year-old patient with AIDS presents with a grayish-white “corduroy-like” plaque on the lateral borders of her tongue that does not scrape off.

Oral hairy leukoplakia is a separate disorder that is not premalignant. It is an Epstein-Barr virus-induced lesion that occurs almost entirely in HIV-infected patients

  • Generally affects the lateral portions of the tongue, although the floor of the mouth, the palate, or the buccal mucosa may also be involved

TX: Unlikely to progress to squamous cell carcinoma

  • Treatment with zidovudine, acyclovir, ganciclovir, foscarnet, and topical podophyllin or isotretinoin
  • Therapy is usually not indicated
"Thrush can be scraped off with a tongue depressor revealing inflamed mucosa underneath. Leukoplakia will remain intact when attempting to remove with a tongue depressor."


Patient will present as → a 20-year-old who presents to the ED 30 minutes after being struck by a hockey puck in the mouth. On physical examination, a central incisor is missing from its socket. The patient has the tooth wrapped in tissue paper, and the root appears intact

Dental management of injuries to primary and permanent teeth

Description Primary dentition Permanent dentition
Concussion/subluxation Observe, soft foods for 1 week, dental radiograph to rule out root fracture Observe, soft foods for 1 week, dental radiograph to rule out root fracture
Luxation Reposition tooth or extract, do not splint Dental radiograph, reposition tooth, splint for 4 weeks
Extrusion Reposition tooth or extract, do not splint Dental radiograph, reposition tooth, splint for 2 weeks
Intrusion Dental radiograph, observe and allow to reerupt, extract if alveolar plate is compromised Dental radiograph, observe and allow to reerupt, surgical or orthodontic repositioning, root canal treatment
Uncomplicated crown fracture Restore tooth, smooth sharp edges, dental radiograph to rule out root fracture Restore tooth, smooth sharp edges, radiograph to rule out root fracture
Complicated crown fracture Dental radiograph, pulp treatment, restore or extract tooth, observe for infection Dental radiograph, pulp treatment, restore tooth, observe for infection, may require root canal treatment
Root fracture Dental radiograph, extract if root fracture is in middle or cervical third of root Dental radiograph, splint, may require root canal treatment; if in cervical third, may need to extract
Avulsion Do not replant, dental radiograph to rule out intrusion if tooth is not located Do not handle the root, replant within 30 min or place in recommended transport medium (balanced salt solution, cold milk); dental radiograph, replant and splint as soon as possible; systemic antibiotics, soft diet, chlorhexidine, close follow-up
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