Oral Diagnosis is the art and science of identifying oral disease processes and oral manifestations of systemic disease processes. Oral medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and management of oral disease processes and systemic disease processes with oral manifestations. When a medical diagnosis is reached, an appropriate referral may be needed.
The diagnosis of oral disease of either local or systemic origin is accomplished by patient interview, observation, examination and then interpretation. A systemic approach to the problem-solving task is employed. Occasionally, laboratory testing or biopsy may be indicated.
The majority of diagnostic problems encountered by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon are of "local" origin, i.e., they arise within the tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. Surprisingly, however, a large number of systemic diseases are also known to present subtle signs and symptoms that may be detected by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Once a definitive diagnosis is established, appropriate treatment can be implemented. This may involve referral of the patient back to the general dentist, another dental specialist or a medical colleague. In many cases, the treatment of oral disease processes and systemic disease processes with oral manifestations will be non-surgical.