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Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology


Oral and maxillofacial pathology is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. They describe it as the specialty that deals with the nature, diagnosis and prevention of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions (mouth, face, jaw, neck), and investigates the causes, processes and effects of the diseases.

Oral and maxillofacial pathologists (OMP) are trained to efficiently diagnose and treat oral diseases, establish critical conditions quickly, and combine their expertise in histopathologic diagnosis, clinical diagnosis and treatment. Once pulp dies inside a tooth, the inflammatory process frequently extends through the apical or lateral foramina in the oral and maxillofacial regions of the body. The practice of oral and maxillofacial pathology includes research and diagnosis of diseases using clinical, microscopic, biochemical, radiographic and other types of examinations.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Education

Oral and maxillofacial pathologists are specifically educated and trained in both dentistry and pathology. They must earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field before applying to dental school. Once they graduate from dental school, they must continue their training and education through internships and residency programs, under the supervision of licensed practicing oral and maxillofacial pathologists. Once that is complete, they may then take and pass the national and state examinations for their area and begin practicing.

Are You a Candidate for an Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that may or may not suggest you needing this dental specialist:

  • Do you constantly have bad breath?
  • Does your saliva taste foul?
  • Do you suffer from canker sores on your inner lips, mouth and tongue?
  • Have you ever undergone a transplant?
  • Do you have mumps or bumps inside your mouth that are painful and swollen?
  • Have you been diagnosed with oral cancer?
  • Are you suffering from burning mouth syndrome?
  • Do you have herpes inside your oral cavity?

If you believe you could have some form of disease or disorder inside your mouth, due to symptoms or signs on your inner cheeks, lips, and tongue you may want to consider seeing an oral and maxillofacial pathologist for examinations.

Page updated September 2012



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