As the study of the structure, function and diseases of the oral cavity, stomatology is an interchangeable term with oral medicine, depending on the country. Though the United States does not currently recognize stomatology or oral medicine as dental specialties, these professional individuals provide valuable training and leadership to many dentists concerning oral health problems and conditions of the mouth.
According to Colgate, stomatology is closest to the discipline of orthodontics, as well as other specialty areas under the umbrella of dental public health, oral facial pain, oral pathology and chronic pain. Specifically, the educational focus of stomatology emphasizes the nonsurgical management and treatment of oral lesions and others that are not necessarily associated with one’s teeth. Even so, this field provides valuable lessons for dental professionals, such as learning to properly read a biopsy specimen.
Because a number of diseases affect the mouth, including HIV/AIDS and lupus, it is critical for dentists to understand how these manifestations can impact a person’s oral health. It’s equally important for dentists to understand how to manage an individual’s oral health when he/she is undergoing treatment for another disease. Such is the case with cancer, as individuals are at risk for developing dental lesions and tooth and gum disease.
Also included within the specialty of stomatology are burning tongue, ulcers, mouth sores, taste disorders, movement disorders and chronic pain. While many question whether these conditions are truly linked to oral health, researchers continue to believe that there could be a connection. For this reason, stomatology or oral medicine are projected to become a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association at some point in the near future. This is most likely due to the increased emphasis on taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the management of disease and conditions. After all, the bottom line for any discipline is to better the quality of life for patients, no matter how or what they are suffering from.
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