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In the simplest terms, pathology is the clinical study of diseases, their causes and their effects. Oral pathologists, also known as maxillofacial pathologists, examine the origins, the nature and the impacts of diseases, functional changes and abnormalities that occur in the mouth, including the teeth and gums. Pathologists also work with injuries sustained in the mouth.
All oral pathologists will already be dentists specialising in one area or more, and will be experts in histopathology – the examination of microscopic tissues to study and understand the origins and development of diseases. They will have an extensive knowledge of the various diseases and infections that affect the teeth, gums, jaw, throat and many more areas of the human anatomy.
They may work either directly with patients or, perhaps more commonly, in laboratories, researching and examining specimens extracted from the mouth. Other patient-facing healthcare professionals might send samples to pathologists in order to obtain results.
They discuss symptoms with patients and use a variety of equipment and experiments: microscopic; biochemical; microbiological; radiographic; and clinical to study cells and molecules.
To ensure patients are being given the best possible treatment, all dentists and dental care professionals are required by the General Dental Council to undertake a minimum of 250 hours of CPD across a five-year post-registration cycle. CPD could involve any number of activities, including attending seminars or lectures, distance or multimedia learning, private study, peer assessment or research.
Continual Professional Development covers a number of areas relevant to all dental care professionals, the three core subjects of which are dealing with medical emergencies, disinfection and radiography and radiation.
For more information about Continual Professional Development please visit the General Dental Council