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How will oral and maxillofacial pathology be practised 10 years from now?



This is the third in a series of interviews with thought leaders in various clinical disciplines about the future of dentistry.

Dr. Paul Edwards, Professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Medicine and Radiology at Indiana University, offered his insights into how oral and maxillofacial pathology might be practiced 10 years from now.

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Dr. Edwards’ profile

Interview Highlights

  • The biggest change that we would hope would happen in dental education and practice is a much larger focus on clinical oral pathology, oral medicine, management of head and neck lesions, and lesions that are within the general dentistry scope.
  • There is a changing paradigm from surgeon the teeth and gums to physician and surgeon of the whole mouth-head-and-neck area.
  • Emerging technologies: the cost of next generation gene sequencing is rapidly decreasing opening the door to using these data in dentistry. Looking at things like disease susceptibility, response to therapy and pharmacology (pharmacogenetics), and selection of therapy based on this new knowledge.
  • Moving into the era of personalized dental medicine.
  • The two areas that will witness developments in the next 10 years are the salivary biomarkers and a move towards more in vivo microscopy to assess certain oral lesions.
  • Dental schools need to emphasize more clinical pathology and radiology, clinical and internal medicine, pharmacology, principles of surgery, and genetics.
  • Greater integration of oral health care into overall primary health care becomes inevitable as the knowledge base continues to expand and the need to work closely with other health care professionals.
  • Dental schools and dental associations play a critical role in ensuring that the high quality continuing education is available for the dental practitioner. Without continuing education, it will become more and more difficult to stay up to date on scientific and clinical developments.


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