Who is an oral physician?

A single disease can have consequences on other systems as well and hence it becomes evident to identify the disease and have a holistic approach towards a better treatment plan. Ability of diagnosing a disease is the cornerstone of any health expertise. An infective undiagnosed patient can unknowingly transmit the disease to other people in the surroundings. Early diagnosis can help in preventing such an outbreak.

Dentistry remains no untouched. Early diagnosis and preventive treatment helps improving the lifestyle of the patient. It is rightly said that if diagnosis is the key to unlock the labyrinth of the hydra headed diseases, then oral medicine and radiology is the master key. Oral medicine and radiology (OMR) is one of the nine specialities of dentistry concerned with diagnosis, proper identification with pharmacological and non surgical management of various of disorders affecting oral and maxillofacial region. It is considered to be a bridge connecting the dental and the medical fraternities.  In a country like India, ignorance is bliss. Hence, the role of oral physicians remains at forefront, addressing the alarming situation of oral health in the country.

An oral physician is a well trained personnel in the field of oral and maxillofacial medicine, radiology and applied pathology, being able to manage the stomatological disorders both within and beyond the scope of general dentistry. As stated by Hippocrates “Healing is a matter of time but also sometimes a matter of opportunity”. An oral health expert gets a zillion chances to provide a healing touch to a million lives.  These specialists are competent in diagnosing and treating inflammatory and precancerous oral mucosal conditions, temporomandibular disorders, orofacial and neuralgic pain, salivary gland disorders, interpretation of radiographs and legal independent examination of medical and dental examinations and the list continues. The population at a target by oral physicians are cases of xerostomia, anemic stomatitis, specific herpetic, candidal and vincents infections, senile mucositis and Gingivitis, apthous stomatitis, allergic, atopic stomatitis, oral lesions of mucocutanous diseases, oral precancers and cancerous conditions, post Herpetic and non surgical cases of trigeminal neuralgias, temporomandibular joint disorders, burning mouth syndromes, atypical facial pain and many more.

Disease always comes with a package. Lack of proper investigations will be like beating around the bush. The specificity of any lesion is only proved after proper investigations which include complete blood count, blood analysis, glucose tolerance test, kidney function test, liver function test, serological tests, microbiological examination and many more. Radiographs help seeing through the dark. Intraoral or extraoral radiographs done using the conventional or advanced technology proves to be an important diagnostic tool. Smear preparation and biopsy of the lesion helps in more accurate analysis of the disease and thus, improving the overall treatment plan for the patient.

Oral medicine and radiology specialists with their shear knowledge of pathophysiology of any disease affecting the oral and maxillofacial region helps to improve the cure rate and lowering down the cost and morbidity associated with the treatment. This makes them an indispensable one. Besides having an important role in improving the overall oral health of society, the speciality lacks recognition until now.

“Health of the body starts with the health of the mouth” as said by Charaka, so dental health attains the paramount importance.  An OMR specialist can play a vital role in the assessment of the disease and framing a better treatment plan. Evolution and breaking the age old barriers can be a game changer. The upcoming pain clinics diagnosing and managing the acute and chronic pains through multidisciplinary approach is a major example. The role of OMR specialists in radiation oncology team stands at par managing the after effects of the oral health of the patient during and post radiation therapy. “Forensic Odontology or Forensic Dentistry is the study of the teeth and jaws as evident in law and justice”. With a lot of scope in human identification, it is a new and uncharted territory in India.

With ample amount of advancements in the field of health sector, an OMR specialist or oral physician can act as major pillar in improving the fabric of the healthcare system in our country by interconnecting the dental and medical specialities.

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