What is Oral Maxillofacial Pathology?

Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a specialty of dentistry and pathology that focuses on the identification, nature, and treatment of diseases that affect the mouth. ProPath Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology is led by Paras B. Patel, who joined ProPath from the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at the University A&M of Texas School of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas, where he obtained certification in oral and maxillofacial pathology. Oral and maxillofacial pathology is a field that studies the causes, effects, and processes of diseases that affect the mouth.

In addition to diagnosing and treating these conditions, oral maxillofacial surgeons can also perform cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, chemical peels, dermabrasion, collagen injections, and laser treatments to improve the appearance of wrinkled or damaged skin. Oral maxillofacial surgeons are also trained to treat injuries and fractures of the upper and lower jaws, palate, cheekbones, eye sockets, or a combination of these. This is done through a comprehensive clinical evaluation that includes extraoral and intraoral hard and soft tissue examinations. After an evaluation that includes a complete exam, x-rays, and consultation with the patient and other members of the implant team, the oral maxillofacial surgeon will place the implants.

Once the implants and crowns have been placed, the maxillofacial surgeon and restorative dentist will continue to collaborate through follow-up exams. In some parts of the world, oral and maxillofacial pathologists also assume responsibilities in forensic dentistry. The following is a general list of pathologies that may affect the oral and maxillofacial region; some are more common than others:

  • Cancer
  • Cysts
  • Granulomas
  • Infections
  • Tumors
The oral maxillofacial surgeon who places the implants will consult with the patient and with the restorative dentist who manufactures the crowns for the implants to ensure a collaborative treatment plan. There are many types of research used to diagnose oral and maxillofacial diseases, including screening tests, imaging (x-rays, CBCT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound), and histopathology (biopsy).

Oral maxillofacial surgeons are specially trained to perform cosmetic surgeries to correct physical malformations in the maxillofacial region caused by aging, diseases, injuries, or birth defects. After an evaluation that includes a complete exam, x-rays, and consultation with the patient and other members of the implant team, we will send a sample to a laboratory staffed by oral and maxillofacial pathologists for evaluation and diagnosis. An oral maxillofacial surgeon must graduate from an accredited four-year dental school before completing an additional four to six years of training through an accredited oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program at a hospital. When maxillofacial fractures are complex or extensive, an oral maxillofacial surgeon may need to make multiple incisions to expose the bones and use a combination of wiring or plating techniques.

Oral maxillofacial surgeons may make incisions to expose bone, use small screws and fixation devices, or require wires or rubber bands to be placed in the mouth for a healing period of six or more weeks. The specialty of oral and maxillofacial pathology deals with diagnosing and studying diseases that affect the oral and maxillofacial region.

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