An independent inquiry into how 15 cancer patients examined at Belfast's Royal School of Dentistry may have received late diagnoses will be chaired by a senior barrister.
Brian Fee QC should produce his final report by May with an interim one within six weeks of beginning work, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said.
Mr McGimpsey has apologised for the failings which emerged after the review of a consultant's work.
Professor Philip Lamey has now been removed from his post and is due to face a hearing at the General Dental Council later this year.
The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has already identified concerns over 22 patients, 15 who had cancer, and recalled an additional 117 people to have their cases reviewed as a precautionary measure.
Mr McGimpsey said the inquiry would be into the general quality of care provided by the trust and School of Dentistry to all patients recalled.
It will also evaluate the nature, extent, timeliness and effectiveness of communications between and within the school, trust, Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and Department of Health.
Mr McGimpsey said: "I expect this inquiry to be robust and vigorous, examining the care to patients and the circumstances surrounding this very serious matter. Once this review has concluded, all relevant parties must take note of the lessons learned and what measures need to be put in place to avoid any similar incidents."
Concerns were first raised about the consultant's work in late 2009 when it emerged that six patients with oral cancer had potentially received a late diagnosis. At this stage the Belfast Trust decided to supervise the professor's work pending a review.
Subsequent investigations identified concerns with a total of 22 patients - 15 of whom had oral cancer. Four have since died, three from oral cancer and one from other causes. It is not known whether the late diagnosis contributed to their deaths.