Oral medicine is a dental specialty that integrates medicine and dentistry to diagnose and non-surgically manage conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region. This often includes evaluating dental care needs and problems for medically complex patients. Patients are often referred to Carolina Oral & Facial Surgery’s Oral Medicine Center from throughout the health care system. Practitioners in the fields of general dentistry, dental specialties, medical primary care providers and medical specialists often refer patients for oral health problems. Oral medicine covers a wide variety of face and oral cavity conditions including the following:
Sleep Breathing Disorders (Sleep Apnea) – *Over 40 million Americans suffer from 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Unfortunately, most of them are undiagnosed and untreated. Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder characterized by temporary, recurrent interruptions of breathing (respiration) during sleep. Symptoms of this disorder include periodic wakefulness during the night, excessive sleepiness during the day, and loud snoring during sleep.
Orofacial Pain & Facial Neuralgias – Orofacial pain involves numerous conditions, including temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), dental pain, atypical facial pain, burning mouth syndrome, and bruxism.
Oral Mucosal Diseases & Oral Dermatologic Conditions – This includes the biopsy of lesions as well as treatment of chronic conditions such as Lichen planus and desquamative gingivitis.
Complications from Cancer Treatment – Complications of cancer treatment arise in various forms and degrees of severity, depending on the individual and the cancer treatment. Oral complications occur in virtually all patients receiving radiation for head and neck malignancies, in approximately 80 percent of blood stem cell transplant recipients, and in nearly 40 percent of chemotherapy patients. Some complications occur only during treatment; others, such as dry mouth, may persist for years. Unfortunately, patients with cancer do not always receive oral care until serious complications develop. The following are some common side effects:
- Oral mucositis: inflammation and ulceration of gums or the mucosa.
- Infection: viral, bacterial, and fungal; results from immunosuppression,
- Xerostomia/salivary gland dysfunction: mouth dryness due to reduced salivary flow.
- Radiation caries: lifelong risk of rampant dental decay beginning after radiation therapy.
- Osteonecrosis: exposed dead bone from radiation or bisphosphonate therapy.
Oral Manifestations of Systemic Diseases & Exacerbation of Medical Illness – Problems in your mouth may be impacting your general health. We pay special attention to emerging science and technologies which reduce health risk factors and assure better health for patients. Bringing medical and dental professionals together and providing a wide variety of educational opportunities promotes excellent care for patients and encourages proper inter-disciplinary care when necessary.
For additional information on oral medicine and the diabetic patient, patients on blood thinners, and burning mouth syndrome please refer to the following link of the American Academy of Oral Medicine.