The identification and characterization of stem cells is a major focus of developmental biology and regenerative medicine. The advent of genetic inducible fate mapping techniques has made it possible to precisely label specific cell populations and to follow their progeny over time. When combined with advanced mathematical and statistical methods, stem cell division dynamics can be studied in new and exciting ways. Despite advances in a number of tissues, relatively little attention has been paid to stem cells in the oral epithelium. This review will focus on current knowledge about adult oral epithelial stem cells, paradigms in other epithelial stem cell systems that could facilitate new discoveries in this area and the potential roles of epithelial stem cells in oral disease.