Oral medicine and oral microbiology

Oral medicine is concerned with clinical diagnosis and non-surgical management of non-dental diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial region, such as ulcers, oral lichen planus, and pemphigus vulgaris. Commonly these are skin, gut or autoimmune diseases which appear in the mouth too. Moreover, it involves the diagnosis and follow-up of potentially malignant conditions of the oral cavity, like leukoplakia or erythroplakia and of chronic and acute pain conditions such as neuralgias, facial pain, headaches and migraines. Another aspect of the field is managing the dental and oral condition of medically compromised patients such as cancer patients who suffer from oral mucositis or bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws. Additionally, it is involved in the clinical diagnosis and management of dry mouth conditions, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, and non-dental chronic orofacial pain conditions, such as burning mouth syndrome and temporomandibular joint disorders.

Oral microbiology is the study of the microorganisms of the oral cavity and the management of infections around the mouth and face. Of particular interest is the role of oral microorganisms in the two major dental diseases dental caries and periodontal disease, and mouth infections secondary to dry mouth, drugs or medical conditions.

Professor Stephen Challacombe is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of oral medicine and oral microbiology and is on the General Dental Council specialist lists for both. He is a special advisor to Harpenden Dental Centre, providing us with his clinical knowledge and specialist expertise in these fields. Professor Challacombe assists the specialist dentists with complex cases involving aspects of oral medicine related to dentistry e.g. atypical oral lesions, persistent ulcers, white and red patches, dry mouth related problems, and the oral aspects of gut, skin and autoimmune diseases. Professor Challacombe created the Dry Mouth Scale to assist practitioners globally in the management of patients with dry mouth related problems.