Oral Medicine is a specialty within dentistry that rests at the interface of dentistry and medicine. The oral health and care of patients with chronic, recurrent, and medically related disorders of the oral and maxillofacial region and the diagnosis and management of these conditions is Oral Medicine.
Investigation of any lesion within the mouth should only be performed by experienced practitioners in Oral Medicine
Oral Medicine assesses, diagnoses, and manages symptoms of the mouth and oral and maxillofacial structures (mouth, lips, gums, jaws, tongue, soft and hard palate, and face) that often do not have any relationship to the teeth. These symptoms and conditions are usually associated with a high degree of psychological and physical morbidity on a persons quality of life.
In other cases, the oral manifestations or ‘signs and symptoms’ may be the first indication of an underlying local problem related to the mouth such as oral cancer, oral thrush, periodontal disease, or dental disease, or they may represent widespread a more widespread general condition, for example diabetes, cancer, or immune suppression. Therefore, the actual scope of Oral Medicine is very broad and often requires close liason and co-operation with other general and specialist medical facilities.
Typically therefore, Oral Medicine practitioners work closely with a patients medical GP, medical specialist (Oncologist, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Cardiologist, Gastorenterologist, Respiratory and General Physician), General Dentist, and Oromaxillofacial Surgeon. The key difference from Oromaxillofacial surgery is that the emphasis on treating conditions are primarily managed without the need for surgery.
However, Oral Medicine also forms a significant part of post surgical management in patients with chronic or complex diseases and illnesses. Conditions typically seen and treated by an Oral Medicine practitioner include:
Red and White patches in the mouth:
– Apthous ulcers, oral cancer, geographic tongue, oral candidiasis, oral dysplasia, angular chelitis.
Skin diseases that have oral manifestions:
– Lichen planus, pemphigus, pemphigoid, lupus erythematosus
– Allergic or hypersensitivity reactions
– Erythema multiforme, nickel allergies, dental material allergies
Diseases that involve the mouth, eyes, and musculoskeletal system:
– Sjögren’s syndrome, Behçet’s disease, Rheumatoid diseases
Diseases that involve the mouth and gastrointestinal system:
– Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, nutritional deficiencies
– Viral infections
– Herpes simplex, HIV, Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, syphilis
– Immune system related diseases, dysfunction, and illness
– Organ transplant, autoimmune diseases
Facial pain conditions:
– Burning mouth syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, atypical facial pain, atypical odontalgia
– Conditions related to medications and other non-specific complications affecting the mouth
– Xerostomia (dry mouth), acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, periodontal infections