A Guide to Clinical Differential Diagnosis of Oral Mucosal Lesions


Emily Lanzel, DDS, MS; John W Hellstein, DDS, MS; Michael W Finkelstein, DDS, MS

Credit Hours:

4 Hour(s)


The primary goal of this course is to help dental professionals learn the process of clinical differential diagnosis of diseases and lesions of the oral mucosa. This course also includes both an interactive and downloadable decision tree to...

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The primary goal of this course is to help dental professionals learn the process of clinical differential diagnosis of diseases and lesions of the oral mucosa. This course also includes both an interactive and downloadable decision tree to assist in the diagnosis.

Oral pathology is a visual specialty, and clinical images can facilitate your learning the clinical features of oral mucosal lesions. Several atlases are recommended in the Additional Resources section of this course. The textual material in this course is designed to be used with The Oral Pathology Image Database (Atlas).”

Please note that lesions or diseases discussed in the textual material that have clinical images available on “The Oral Pathology Image Database” are designated with *.

  • Intended Audience:

    Dental Assistant Students, Dental Assistants, Dental Hygiene Students, Dental Hygienists, Dental Students, Dentists

  • Date Course Online:

    Jun 4, 2002

  • Last Revision Date:

    Mar 26, 2020

  • Course Expiration Date:

    Mar 25, 2023

  • Cost:


  • Method:


  • AGD Subject Code(s):


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

  • Classify oral lesions into surface lesions and soft tissue enlargements using a decision tree (flowchart).
  • Describe the clinical features that are characteristic of each class of oral mucosal lesions in the decision tree, including:
    • White surface lesions - epithelial thickening, surface debris, and subepithelial change
    • Generalized pigmented surface lesions
    • Localized pigmented surface lesions - intravascular blood, extravascular blood, melanin pigment, and tattoo
    • Vesicular-ulcerated-erythematous surface lesions - hereditary, autoimmune, viral, mycotic, and idiopathic
    • Reactive soft tissue enlargements of oral mucosa
    • Benign tumors of oral mucosa - epithelial, mesenchymal, and salivary gland
    • Malignant neoplasms of oral mucosa
    • Cysts of oral mucosa
  • Describe the characteristic or unique clinical features of the most common and/or important diseases of the oral mucosa.
  • Perform a step-by-step clinical differential diagnosis, using the decision tree, for patients with oral mucosal lesions.


  • P&G is providing these resource materials to dental professionals. We do not own this content nor are we responsible for any material herein.
  • Participants must always be aware of the hazards of using limited knowledge in integrating new techniques or procedures into their practice. Only sound evidence-based dentistry should be used in patient therapy.

Note:  Registration is required to take test.


Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement

  • The late Dr. Finkelstein reported no conflicts of interest associated with this course when he last updated it. The staff at P&G expresses our condolences regarding the loss of Dr. Finkelstein on December 28, 2013. He was a passionate advocate for dental education who reached tens of thousands of students and patients with his knowledge of oral pathology that spanned a career of over 30 years at the University of Iowa.
  • Dr. Lanzel and Dr. Hellstein report no conflicts of interest associated with this course.
Emily Lanzel

Emily Lanzel


Dr. Lanzel received her DDS degree and MS degree in Oral Pathology from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. She has been a faculty member in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine at the University of Iowa since 20...

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John W. Hellstein

John W Hellstein


Michael W. Finkelstein

Michael W Finkelstein




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