Oral medicine (sometimes termed dental medicine, oral and maxillofacial medicine or stomatology) is a specialty focused on the mouth and nearby structures. It lies at the interface between medicine and dentistry. Oral medicine is concerned with clinical diagnosis and non-surgical management of non-dental pathologies affecting the orofacial region (the mouth and the lower face).
Many systemic diseases have signs or symptoms that manifest in the orofacial region. Pathologically, the mouth may be afflicted by many cutaneous and gastrointestinal conditions. There is also the unique situation of hard tissues penetrating the epithelial continuity (hair and nails are intra-epithelial tissues). The biofilm that covers teeth therefore causes unique pathologic entities known as plaque-induced diseases.
Example conditions that oral medicine is concerned with are lichen planus, Behçet’s disease and pemphigus vulgaris. Moreover, it involves the diagnosis and follow-up of pre-malignant lesions of the oral cavity, such as leukoplakias or erythroplakias and of chronic and acute pain conditions such as paroxysmal neuralgias, continuous neuralgias, myofascial pain, atypical facial pain, autonomic cephalalgias, headaches and migraines. Another aspect of the field is managing the dental and oral condition of medically compromised patients such as cancer patients suffering from related oral mucositis, bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws or oral pathology related to radiation therapy. Additionally, it is involved in the diagnosis and management of dry mouth conditions (such as Sjögren’s syndrome) and non-dental chronic orofacial pain, such as burning mouth syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia and temporomandibular joint disorder.