Oral medicine recognized as a dental specialty

Oral medicine becomes the 11th dental specialty recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.

The recognition comes after the National Commission on March 2 adopted a resolution based on an application from the American Academy of Oral Medicine to recognized oral medicine as a dental specialty.

"So often patients and their health care providers lack awareness of the expertise held by oral medicinists in diagnosis and management of mouth sores, taste change, dry mouth, oral burning sensation and jaw or facial pain," said Dr. Lauren L. Patton, AAOM president. "Specialty recognition will facilitate patient awareness and access to our clinicians who also provide primary dental care for those with complex medical issues that require long-term management and/or modifications in the delivery of oral health care because of their medical status."

The ADA House of Delegates in 2017 established the National Commission to oversee the decision-making process for recognizing dental specialties. The “Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties” is still managed by the ADA Council on Education and Licensure and the House of Delegates.

Oral medicine now joins the following dental specialties: dental anesthesiology; dental public health; endodontics; oral and maxillofacial pathology; oral and maxillofacial radiology; oral and maxillofacial surgery; orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics; pediatric dentistry; periodontics; and prosthodontics.

Dental specialties are recognized “to protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care,” according to the National Commission website.

A sponsoring organization seeking specialty recognition for discipline of dentistry must document that the discipline satisfies six requirements, as outlined in the "Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties." The sponsoring organization of the proposed specialty must provide documentation to show that it is a distinct and well-defined field that requires unique knowledge and skills beyond those commonly possessed by dental school graduates; that it requires advanced knowledge and skills and that it scientifically contributes new knowledge, education and research in both the field, and the profession.

The American Academy of Oral Medicine submitted its application to the National Commission in June 2019. Following a review by the National Commission’s Review Committee on Specialty Recognition, the National Commission invited public comment for a 60-day period.

At its March 2 meeting, the National Commission determined that the application did indeed meet the “Requirements for Recognition of Dental Specialties” and adopted a resolution recognizing oral medicine as a dental specialty. A resolution needs a two-thirds majority vote to be approved.

Following specialty recognition by the National Commission, now the certifying board with a close working relationship with the recognized sponsoring organization must also apply for recognition that is in accordance with the "Requirements for Recognition of Dental Certifying Boards."

The National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards is comprised of 10 general dentists, appointed by the ADA Board of Trustees; one specialist from each of the 10 recognized specialties, appointed by their respective sponsoring organization; and a public/consumer member appointed by the National Commission.

"AAOM is thrilled to be one step closer to achieving our vision of integrating medicine and dentistry to promote optimal health with this important recognition," Dr. Patton said. "This provides a wonderful opportunity to further develop our specialty in concert with our 75th year anniversary celebration for our academy this April."