The embryonic head development, including the formation of dental structures, is a complex and delicate process guided by specific genetic programs. Genetic changes and environmental factors can disturb the execution of these programs and result in abnormalities in orofacial and dental structures. Orofacial clefts and hypodontia/ oligodontia are examples of such abnormalities frequently seen in dental clinics. An insight into the mechanisms and genes involved in the formation of orofacial and dental structures has been gradually gained by genetic analysis of families and by the use of experimental vertebrate models such as the mouse and chick models. The development of novel clinical therapies for orofacial and dental pathological conditions depends very much on a detailed knowledge of the molecular and cellular processes that are involved in head formation.