A typical patient who seeks care from an oral medicine provider has conditions like dry-mouth, burning mouth sensations, bad taste, ulcerations that don't resolve easily or oral cancer. Sometimes the patient is seen by several other health care providers before getting a proper diagnosis and successful treatment. If this process could be improved, the patient would gain relief sooner and might even save some money.

Unexpected problems

The American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM) is on a mission to educate patients and physicians on the types of oral issues that present themselves in the examination room to improve management of complex medical conditions. Dr. Wendy Hupp, current president of AAOM, is Associate Professor of Oral Medicine at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Kentucky.

"My first patient today was a 50-year-old woman with the complaint of dental pain 'all-over' her mouth,” said Dr. Hupp. “She had recently been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Along with her hypertension, diabetes and allergies, her physician had started her on some new medications to help with her breathing. A dental student was currently treating her cavities and missing teeth, but the patient was still suffering. It turns out that her medications had totally altered the amount and quality of her saliva, causing the development of new cavities faster than they could be filled. I was able to help the patient process what was happening and work with the dental student to come up with additional treatment options.”

Anticipating solutions

Dr. Hupp provides continuing education for physicians and nurse practitioners on topics such as oral manifestations of medications prescribed to patients for common medical problems locally and through AAOM. "Our Academy gathers twice each year to share cutting-edge scientific findings as well as provide a review of oral medicine principles to interested providers," Hupp continues. "Our 2017 meeting is in April in Orlando and we expect to have attendees from around the world.”

More information for practitioners and patients can be found at www.aaom.com.