Oral medicine is a specialised field of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and management of oral and facial diseases and disorders that affect the mouth, jaws, and related structures. Oral medicine specialists are dental professionals who have undergone a minimum of 3 years of advanced training in this field. Training in Oral Medicine includes a combination of didactic and clinical training that covers topics such as oral mucosal diseases and disorders, salivary gland diseases and disorders, oral manifestations of systemic diseases, oral and facial pain, temporomandibular disorders, oral and maxillofacial radiology, and oral pathology.
Oral Medicine Specialists are equipped to diagnose and manage a wide range of oral and facial diseases and disorders, including:
- Oral mucosal diseases: These include a range of conditions that affect the soft tissues of the mouth and lips, such as lichen planus, pemphigus, and erythema multiforme.
- Oral cancer: Oral Medicine Specialists are trained to diagnose potentially cancerous and cancerous oral conditions early. They are also part of the health care team which includes oncologist, head and neck surgeons, and allied health practitioners involved in the management of cancerous oral conditions.
- Salivary gland disorders: Oral Medicine Specialists diagnose and manage conditions that affect the salivary glands such as dry mouth and blocked salivary glands.
- Oral infections: Oral Medicine Specialists are experts in the diagnosis and management of oral infections, such as oral thrush and cold sores.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: These conditions affect the jaw joint and chewing muscle that present as pain, jaw clicking, and jaw locking. Oral Medicine Specialists are specifically trained to diagnose and manage temporomandibular joint disorders.
- Orofacial pain: Although dental pain is the most common pain of the oral and facial region, in many instances, the pain may not be of dental origin. Oral Medicine Specialists are trained to diagnose and treat these challenging pains such as neuralgias (nerve pain) and burning mouth syndrome.
- Oral manifestations of systemic diseases: Some diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, can have oral manifestations that Oral Medicine Specialists are trained to diagnose early and manage appropriately.
- Dental Sleep Medicine: This field involves the diagnosis and management of sleep bruxism (teeth clenching and griding) and oral appliance therapy for sleep disordered breathing. That is, Oral Medicine Specialists are trained to assess and fit oral appliance (specialised mouthguards) for sleep bruxism to protect the teeth and jaw. They also work closely with sleep physicians and ENT surgeons through the provision of oral appliances (night guards) to treat snoring and sleep apnoea.
At the initial appointment with an Oral Medicine Specialist, the specialist will complete a comprehensive history which will include the patient\u2019s medical and dental histories. This will be followed by a head and neck, face, and oral examination. Based on the patient’s clinical presentation, the Oral Medicine Specialist may also order diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, blood test or imaging (MRI / CT scan), to formulate a definitive diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis has been established, the Oral Medicine Specialist will work with the patient to develop a personalised treatment plan that may include lifestyle and behavioural modifications, jaw exercises, oral appliance, therapeutic injections such as trigger point or botulinum toxin injections, and medications where necessary. In select cases, the patient may be referred to other healthcare providers to deliver aspects of the treatment plan. Throughout the course of the patient\u2019s treatment, the Oral Medicine Specialist will review and closely monitor the patient’s progress which will be communicated to the patient\u2019s referrer and other relevant health care providers. Based on the patient\u2019s progress, modification to the treatment plan may be necessary.
In summary, Oral Medicine is a specialised field of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and management of oral and facial diseases and disorders that affect the mouth, jaws, and related structures. Oral Medicine Specialists are dental professionals who have undergone advanced training in the field of Oral Medicine and are equipped to diagnose and manage a wide range of oral and facial conditions. If you are experiencing a condition affecting the oral or facial region, a referral to an Oral Medicine Specialist may be necessary for early diagnosis and effective treatment.Sponsored by: Official IPL App