Page, Roy C. Research Center in Oral Biology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
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The branch of biomedical science concerned with the embryology, development, and structure of the teeth, jaws, oral cavity, and adjacent structures, and with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of their abnormalities. The practice of general dentistry requires a thorough knowledge of not only the structure, growth, function, and pathologic conditions of the oral cavity and related structures, but also the relationship of the oral cavity to other parts of the body in health and disease, and a recognition of oral manifestations of various systemic diseases. Nevertheless, most of the dentist's time and effort are devoted to the treatment of dental caries (decay) and periodontal diseases (see illustration). In countries with professional and affordable dental care, the prevalence of dental caries, especially in children and young adults, has decreased rapidly; a similar trend is occurring with gingivitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane surrounding the tooth sockets) and periodontitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth). As a consequence, other conditions are becoming relatively more important in general dentistry. These include orofacial and temporomandibular joint pain; oral mucosal lesions associated with immunosuppression, irradiation, and chemotherapy in patients with cancer or organ transplants; and unusual mucosal and periodontal lesions in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). See also: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); Chemotherapy and other antineoplastic drug treatments; Dental caries; Immunosuppression; Mouth disorders; Pathology; Tooth; Tooth disorders
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