Oral and maxillofacial pathology

"Maxillofacial disorder" redirects here. For the surgery, see Maxillofacial surgery. For certain abnormalities of the face and/or cranium, see Craniofacial abnormality.
Oral and maxillofacial pathology
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 K00-K14
ICD-9-CM 520-529
MeSH D009057
Names Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist, Oral Pathologist
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Pathology, Dentistry, Medicine
Education required
Varies. Typically dental degree followed by specialist training

Oral and maxillofacial pathology (also termed oral pathology, stomatognathic disease, dental disease, or mouth disease) refers to the diseases of the mouth ("oral cavity" or "stoma"), jaws ("maxillae" or "gnath") and related structures such as salivary glands, temporomandibular joints, facial muscles and perioral skin (the skin around the mouth).[1][2] The mouth is an important organ with many different functions. It is also prone to a variety of medical and dental disorders.[3]

The specialty oral and maxillofacial pathology is concerned with diagnosis and study of the causes and effects of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial region. It is sometimes considered to be a specialty of dentistry and pathology.[4] Sometimes the term head and neck pathology is used instead, but this might imply that the pathologist deals with otorhinolaryngologic disorders (i.e. ear, nose and throat) in addition to maxillofacial disorders. In this role there is some overlap between the expertise of head and neck pathologists and that of endocrine pathologists.

Example pathologies

A great many diseases involve the mouth, jaws and orofacial skin. Some example pathologies which can involve the oral and maxillofacial region are listed. Some are more common than others, and this list is by no means complete. The examples are considered according to a surgical sieve.




X-ray of advanced bone loss due to periodontitis




Pseudomembranous candidiasis of the posterior mouth and oropharynx





Oral cancer on the tongue.


There are many oral and maxillofacial pathologies which are not fully understood.

2 minor aphthae on the lower labial mucosa
Geographic tongue

Oral and maxillofacial pathology as a specialty

Oral and maxillofacial pathology, previously termed oral pathology, is a speciality involved with the diagnosis and study of the causes and effects of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions (i.e. the mouth, the jaws and the face). It can be considered a speciality of dentistry and pathology.[4] Oral pathology is a closely allied speciality with oral and maxillofacial surgery and oral medicine.

The clinical evaluation and diagnosis of oral mucosal diseases are in the scope of oral & maxillofacial pathology specialists and oral medicine practitioners,[15] both disciplines of dentistry. When a microscopic evaluation is needed, a biopsy is taken, and microscopically observed by a pathologist. The American Dental Association uses the term oral and maxillofacial pathology, and describes it as "the specialty of dentistry and pathology which deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes and effects of these diseases."[16]

In some parts of the world, oral and maxillofacial pathologists take on responsibilities in forensic odontology.

Geographic variation

United Kingdom

There are fewer than 30 consultant oral and maxillofacial pathologists in the UK. A dental degree is mandatory, but a medical degree is not. The shortest pathway to becoming an oral pathologist in the UK is completion of 2 years' general professional training and then 5 years in a diagnostic histopathology training course. After passing the required exams and gaining a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training, the trainee is entitled to apply for registration as a specialist.[17] Many oral and maxillofacial pathologists in the UK are clinical academics, having undertaken a PhD either prior to or during training. Generally, oral and maxillofacial pathologists in the UK are employed by dentals or medical schools and undertake their clinical work at university hospital departments.

New Zealand

There are 5 practising Oral Pathologists in New Zealand (as of May 2013).[18] Oral pathologists in New Zealand also take part in forensic evaluations.[18]

See also


  1. "gnath(o)-". TheFreeDictionary.com.
  2. "ICD-10:".
  3. Mouth Disease Information Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  4. 1 2 3 Neville BW, Damm DD, Allen CA, Bouquot JE (2002). Oral & maxillofacial pathology (2nd ed.). Philadelphia?page=ix (preface): W.B. Saunders. ISBN 0721690033.
  5. "Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments". National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  6. "Gingivitis". Emedicine. Retrieved 2013-12-25.
  7. Elad S, Zadik Y, Hewson I, et al. (August 2010). "A systematic review of viral infections associated with oral involvement in cancer patients: a spotlight on Herpesviridea". Support Care Cancer. 18 (8): 993–1006. doi:10.1007/s00520-010-0900-3. PMID 20544224.
  8. Herpes Guide: How do I know if I have herpes Canadian Herpes Information portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  9. What are Mumps Ministry of health and long term care portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  10. Women's Oral Health and Overall
  11. Elad S, Zadik Y, Zeevi I, et al. (December 2010). "Oral cancer in patients after hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation: long-term follow-up suggests an increased risk for recurrence". Transplantation. 90 (11): 1243–4. doi:10.1097/TP.0b013e3181f9caaa. PMID 21119507.
  12. Burning Mouth Syndrome American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  13. Diseases of the Digestive System The oral cavity FAQ's Health Portal. Retrieved on 2010-02-01
  14. Zadik Y, Drucker S, Pallmon S (Aug 2011). "Migratory stomatitis (ectopic geographic tongue) on the floor of the mouth". J Am Acad Dermatol. 65 (2): 459–60. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.04.016. PMID 21763590.
  15. Zadik, Yehuda; Orbach Hadas; Panzok Amy; Smith Yoav; Czerninski Rakefet (2011). "Evaluation of oral mucosal diseases: inter- and intra-observer analyses". J Oral Pathol Med. 41 (1): 68–72. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0714.2011.01070.x. PMID 21883487. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  16. "ADA.org: Dentistry Definitions".
  17. "The British Society of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathologists". Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  18. 1 2 "Specialisation". New Zealand Dental Association. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
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Further reading

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