Oral medicine specialists do not offer general dental care for most people. Rather, this dental specialty treats a wide range of conditions that affect the oral and maxillofacial region, such as:
- Chronic dry mouth (or xerostomia) and other salivary gland diseases.
- Diseases that affect the lining inside the mouth, cheeks, and lips. These include autoimmune skin diseases and rheumatologic diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma.
- Issues related to cancer -- particularly oral, head and neck, and blood cancers -- and cancer treatments that can contribute to tooth decay, bone deterioration, jaw stiffness, pain, and other problems.
- Mouth and facial pain.
- Oral lesions and ulcers that can be caused by herpes viruses, yeast infections, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies.
You may need to see an oral medicine specialist to receive “oral clearance” before major surgery. This means a specialized dentist will determine if you have any active infections, need a tooth pulled, or have other oral concerns that must be resolved before undergoing procedures such as heart surgery (especially valve repairs and replacements), bone marrow transplant, or organ transplant.
If you have severe heart disease, a ventricular assist device, a bleeding disorder, or a weakened immune system, you may need to receive dental care in a sterile environment like an operating room to reduce your risk of infection.