Oral Medicine

Advanced Oral Care for People with Complex Medical Problems

Call for an Appointment 919-660-1263

Duke’s oral medicine specialists provide advanced oral care to people with serious health issues that affect the face, mouth, teeth, tongue, and jaw. As one of the few centers in North Carolina offering these services, we help people manage oral health concerns related to complex medical problems such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and transplants. We also provide oral clearance before major surgery.

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About Oral Medicine

Oral medicine specialists treat a wide range of conditions that affect the oral and maxillofacial region, such as:

Oral Clearance
You may need to see an oral medicine specialist to receive “oral clearance” before major surgery. This means a specialized provider 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

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tests and Treatments

Your medical provider or dentist will need to refer you for an oral medicine appointment. At your first visit, an oral medicine specialist will meet with you to discuss your needs, medical history, and symptoms. Then they will examine your mouth, neck, and head and may take X-rays to learn more about your oral health. Then you’ll discuss next steps, including any additional tests or biopsies that may be needed, and one or more of these recommended treatment options.

Medicated Ointments 
Prescription steroid or numbing gels and creams help heal oral lesions and relieve pain. 

Some injections deliver medications to areas that are resistant to topical treatments, while others -- like Botox and trigger point injections -- can relieve joint stiffness and muscle spasms.

Minor Oral Surgical Procedures and Biopsies
Minor surgical procedures are used to remove non-cancerous lumps and bumps and to evaluate lesions, ulcers, and blisters that occur in the mouth. Biopsies (removing tissue samples and examining them under a microscope) can help identify oral diseases and cancer.

Oral Cancer Screenings 
Routine follow-up appointments aim to identify pre-cancerous and cancerous growths early so they can be treated quickly.

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Why Choose Duke

Experts in Oral Medicine
Our oral medicine specialists are fellowship-trained and board-certified, which requires years of additional training. We treat a high volume of patients each year, including some of the most frail and susceptible to infection. Our dental hygienists have specialized experience treating medically complex patients in a hospital setting. We collaborate with other Duke specialists to ensure your care is tailored to your unique needs.

Patient Coordinator to Help You Navigate Care
Our patient coordinator is your connection to your oral medicine specialist and helps schedule your appointments, coordinate your visits, and plan procedures. It’s their job to make your treatment journey easier by guiding you through it step by step. They answer all of your questions along the way.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 02/08/2024 by