1: History and Scope of Oral Medicine and Oral Radiology

History and Scope of Oral Medicine and Oral Radiology

History of Oral Medicine

Carol Stewart

In the British literature, Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (18281900), a surgeon at the London Hospital, is regarded as the Father of Oral Medicine. He described dental manifestations of congenital syphilis, intraoral pigmentation and perioral pigmentation associated with intestinal polyposis, later described by Peutz and Jegher. Much of the early description of oral mucosal diseases was found in dermatology textbooks, as documented in the works of Dr Erasmus Wilson.

Sir William Osler recognized the importance of the oral cavity and believed that the tongue and oral mucosa acted as mirrors reflecting the state of health of a patient. He studied medicine at McGill University and in 1884, moved to Philadelphia and became the Chair of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, he became the Chief of Staff at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. The early influence of Dr Kurt Thoma is internationally recognized as well. Dr Thoma was a Swiss-born oral surgeon who produced significant textbooks in the 1920s and 1930s on oral surgery and oral pathology. His work promoted these disciplines, oral diagnosis, oral medicine and oral pathology, to have greater prominence in dental schools.

The study of oral medicine in the United States has a unique history among medical/dental specialties. In the United States, the roots of considering oral medicine as a distinct area of study began with Dr William Gies of Columbia University. Dr Gies, a professor of biological chemistry, became interested in dental research. In 1926, the Carnegie Foundation sponsored Dr Gies’ work entitled

‘Report on Dental Education in the United States and Canada’. He believed that dental students’ education should be more similar to that of medical students. He stressed the importance of biomedical sciences and research in the dental school curriculum. His report suggested that oral medicine be included in a dental curriculum. Another pioneer of great intellect and vision was Dr Lester Burket, professor of Oral Medicine at Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. He also promoted the integration of medicine into dental education and the role of oral health in reflecting systemic health. He is considered by many as the Father of Oral Medicine and published one of the first definitive textbooks devoted to oral medicine in 1946.

The American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM) was organized in 1945 as the American Academy of Dental Medicine, and its founder was Samuel Charles Miller, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Periodontics at New York University College of Dentistry. In 1966, the name was changed to the American Academy of Oral Medicine. The academy was founded to broaden understanding and knowledge of oral disease and to integrate dentistry with medicine to provide more complete patient care. The memberships include an internationally recognized group of professionals.


The mission of the AAOM is stated in Box 1.

The AAOM is the heart and pulse of oral medicine in the United States and is also internationally recognized through the excellent educational training programs and scientific symposia hosted, and the educational literature and treatment guidelines published for medically complex patients.

Healthy collaborations have been developed between AAOM and the European Academy of Oral Medicine (EAOM). EAOM was founded in 1998 based on representation from European countries including Austria, Croatia, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Jan 12, 2015 | Posted by in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology | Comments Off on 1: History and Scope of Oral Medicine and Oral Radiology
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