Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of diseases, injuries, and abnormalities affecting the oral and maxillofacial region. These specialists are highly trained in diagnostic and treatment techniques.
What is Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology?
Oral and maxillofacial pathology is also often referred to as “head and neck” pathology. There are many disorders, diseases, and injuries that can affect the tissue in and around the oral cavity.
Maxillofacial refers to the structures surrounding the oral cavity. Maxillofacial pathology includes diagnoses related to the facial muscles, parts of the jaw such as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), soft tissues such as the perioral skin, and the salivary glands. Much of their focus is on the soft tissues rather than the teeth.
An oral and maxillofacial pathologist will typically perform an examination first to look for signs of oral diseases, including:
- Oral lesions
- Abnormalities or swelling in the head and neck
- Lumps or masses
- Patches of abnormal skin
During an exam, pathologists may also ask patients questions about their medical history, other medical conditions, current medications, oral health records, lifestyle, and potential risk factors.
Oral and maxillofacial pathologists must successfully complete specialized dental education programs. They may also refer patients to oral medical practitioners to diagnose other health issues that affect the oral and maxillofacial regions, such as Crohn’s disease.
Dental Medicine and Oral Pathology
Oral pathology depends on diagnostic tools and techniques, including radiographs and imaging technology, dental examinations, and biopsies. Specialists may work with other dental specialties, including oral radiologists, to arrive at diagnoses and treatment options for patients.
There are significant links between certain medical conditions and symptoms in the oral region. They may also work in a research capacity to understand more about the nature and causes of oral and maxillofacial diseases.
When one or more conditions could be responsible for symptoms, oral and maxillofacial pathologists may also need to provide differential diagnoses, determining which causes or conditions are leading to which symptoms.
Learn More About Dental Specialists in Canada
If you need dental care in Canada from a dental specialist, you can use the 123Dentist network of dental professionals. Our dentists and clinics across Canada include oral and maxillofacial pathologists, oral radiologists, and other specialists.