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Education in practice
Oral manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease: a guide to examination
  1. Sandeep Joshi1,
  2. Alice Moore2,
  3. Joel Mawdsley2,
  4. Barbara Carey3
  1. 1 Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Gastroenterology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3 Department of Head & Neck Surgical Oncology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Barbara Carey, Department of Head & Neck Surgical Oncology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London SE1 9RT, UK; barbaracarey{at}


Orofacial symptoms are common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They may present as a primary manifestation of the disease in the oral cavity with oral Crohn’s disease, or as a secondary manifestation of the disease such as iron deficiency, or due to side effects to medications used in treatment. Orofacial manifestations of IBD may result in significant morbidity which can impact patients’ quality of life. Systematic examination and a timely diagnosis are fundamental in initiating appropriate management.

This article provides a guide for gastroenterologists to systematically perform an extraoral and intraoral examination of the orofacial region. The extraoral examination includes evaluation of lymph nodes, lips and perioral skin. Common extraoral features of IBD include lip swelling, lip fissuring, angular cheilitis, perioral erythema and cervicofacial lymphadenopathy. The intraoral examination involves a systematic inspection of all areas of the oral cavity. Intraoral IBD features include ulceration, cobblestoning of the buccal mucosa, gingival erythema and mucosal tags.

Examining the orofacial region is important in the complete assessment of patients with IBD, to diagnose orofacial conditions, to initiate tailored treatments and to identify those patients who would benefit from input from oral medicine specialists.


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  • SJ and AM contributed equally.

  • Contributors All authors have contributed to this manuscript equally. Both first authors SJ and AM have contributed equally.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.