Oral Pathologist

Identify cancerous tissue or other unusual problems around teeth.
picture of Oral Pathologist

Quick Stats

Salary Range
~ $161,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Oral Pathologists do?

Oral pathology is a specialized form of dentistry. As an Oral Pathologist, you’re the person Dentists contact when they run across tissue or lesions in or around a patient’s mouth that they either suspect to be cancerous or can’t identify.

There aren’t that many Oral Pathologists practicing in the US. In fact, a lot of people, including other Doctors, don’t know what the Oral Pathologist job is all about. The short answer to that is you spend your days seeing patients with extreme oral problems. You find the answers to questions about diseases that stump other Doctors when you’re an Oral Pathologist.

You usually start with either a biopsy of a tissue sample or an x-ray. A biopsy is an examination of a small slice of tissue under a high-powered microscope. The tissue samples you examine can come from the inside of the mouth—the tongue or cheek, for example. Or they can come from any area around the mouth, like the nose, neck, teeth, or gums.

After analyzing the tissue, you identify the disease, which usually turns out to be cancer or an infectious disease. You create a treatment plan, and then work with your patients so they understand the disease they’re fighting and the different options available to them.

To do your job well, you need excellent communication skills, and lots of compassion and concern. These skills and traits will serve you well as you collaborate with other Doctors, and explain scary diseases to patients who are suffering from them.

Should I be an Oral Pathologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Maxillofacial Pathology

    How to become an Oral Pathologist

    We recommend at least a Doctoral degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Oral Pathologist-related education!
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