Tuberculosis of the oral cavity: a systematic review


Matthew E. Falagas, MD, MSc, DSc, Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences (AIBS), 9 Neapoleos Street, 151 23 Marousi, Greece
Telefax: +30–210–6839605


Kakisi OK, Kechagia AS, Kakisis IK, Rafailidis PI, Falagas ME. Tuberculosis of the oral cavity: a systematic review. Eur J Oral Sci 2010; 118: 103–109. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Eur J Oral Sci

The recent increase in the incidence of tuberculosis, combined with an emerging global resistance to antituberculous drugs, warrants an increased awareness of the involvement of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in persistent or atypical lesions in the oral cavity. We sought to review the published reports of mycobacterial infection of the oral cavity found in the literature in otherwise uncompromised patients, from 1950 to the present day, and analyzed the documented manifestations. M. tuberculosis infects all parts of the mouth (soft and hard palate, uvula, buccal mucosa, gingivae, lips, tongue, maxilla, and mandible) more often in men than in women, appearing predominantly in the form of ulcerative lesions. It was found as a secondary infection in 58% (54% pulmonary, 4% extrapulmonary) of patients and as a primary infection in 42% of patients. Carcinomas are found to co-exist in the same lesion site in 3% of patients. In approximately 50% of patients, an oral manifestation of TB has led to the diagnosis of a previously unknown systemic infection, which resulted in a timely and effective treatment. The investigation for tuberculosis should therefore be actively pursued in the dental surgery. Diagnostic work-up for systemic involvement and control of healthcare-associated spread is important, while therapeutic options are still considered adequate.