UW School of Dentistry

Oral Medicine Graduate Program


Oral Medicine has generally been defined as that discipline within dentistry which deals with the diagnosis and essentially non-surgical treatment of disease of the oral cavity and the oral manifestations of systemic disease.

The graduate program in Oral Medicine at the University of Washington is designed to provide extensive diagnostic and therapeutic skills to clinicians wishing to enhance their current skills in diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of oral and perioral diseases, and management of systemic diseases that have a significant impact on the health and function of the tissues of the mouth and adjacent structures. In addition to preparing skilled clinicians, the graduate program is devoted to educating individuals who may wish to pursue careers in academic dentistry – either primarily as scientists engaged in research, or as faculty members devoted to the training of dental students and those engaged in specialty training.

As an Oral Medicine graduate trainee, students are involved in specific clinical and research activities in the areas of: 1) painful and dysfunctional conditions of the temporomandibular joint, the orofacial musculature, neurological, and other tissues of the orofacial region 2) mucosal diseases and dysfunctions of salivary glands, and 3) oral manifestations of systemic disease. Significant clinical experience is derived during the training program in each of these categories. Candidates enrolled in the program, with the guidance of the many experienced faculty members who have published research in each of these areas, will select one of the major categories as their major area of emphasis in research. While some graduates students who have completed the program have chosen private practice, many graduates have elected to pursue careers in academic dentistry, and have maintained their clinical expertise through intramural and extramural patient care.

Program Overview, Goals and Objectives

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Oral Medicine concerns the diagnosis and treatment of oral and perioral disease and management of such patients. Specialists in the field require considerable knowledge in the basic health sciences and should be able to apply this knowledge in the clinical management of oral disease. The specialist requires skill in the use of routine and special diagnostic procedures, instruments, and techniques required for the diagnosis of all oral disease.

Essentially, the therapy is non-surgical except for the obvious need for biopsy, incision and drainage, curettage and aspiration. Other treatment, including physical therapy, counseling, construction of appliances, biofeedback, administration of medications and other agents is common. A thorough understanding of the interplay of various disease processes and a broad knowledge of treatment planning are critical. The effects of systemically based oral disease on oral tissues as well as the complications which oral disease may produce in the treatment of systemic diseases are part of the specialist knowledge base.

The clinical practice and/or teaching of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Oral Medicine is not restricted to the detection of disease processes, but also includes the treatment of oral lesions and perioral symptoms, dyscrasias and variations which are detected through appropriate diagnostic techniques. Problems most commonly encountered in the practice of oral medicine include:

  • Chronic orofacial pain states
  • Temporomandibular disorders
  • Stomatitis and mucosal lesions
  • Salivary and taste dysfunctions
  • Oral manifestations of systemic diseases and their treatment, such as cancer and its therapy (i.e., radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation).

The primary objective of our graduate program is to train a thoroughly qualified clinician and educator in the clinical discipline of oral medicine. To achieve this goal, it is necessary that the students in such a program be allowed the opportunity for advanced education in diagnosis, clinical oral medicine and oral pathology.

The Department operates a large clinical service with many complex patients. These services include: Oral Medicine Clinical Services located at the dental school and hospitals. The dental school facilities include Oral Medicine, Emergency, Radiology/Imaging, and DECOD on which rotations occur. The hospital based facilities include the Hospital Dental Clinic, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and facilities of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, and Radiation Oncology of the University of Washington Medical Center. The clinical services provide residents with extensive experience in the management of patients with chronic orofacial pain, temporomandibular disorders, stomatitis, salivary dysfunctions and oral complication of systemic disease and its therapy.

Oral Medicine Graduate Program Requirements

To earn an M.S.D through the Oral Medicine Graduate Program students must complete the following requirements:

  1. Completion of the core curriculum offered by the program.
  2. 24 Months of full-time clinical training with evaluation of clinical competencies and favorable
    recommendation by committee of graduate program faculty.
  3. Completion of an approved research project and masters thesis

The didactic core curriculum and clinical training portion of the program are designed to meet the graduate school requirements for master’s degree

English Language Requirement

Candidates for admission to the graduate program in Oral Medicine are required to demonstrate their comprehension of the English language by successfully passing the “TOEFL Test” (Test of English as a Foreign Language). TOEFL score must be at least 237 to qualify for the Oral Medicine Graduate program.

Click here for more information on the TOEFL examination.

University of Washington Graduate School Admissions

Interested applicant should apply to the program (DENTISTRY-Oral Medicine MSD) through UW graduate school admissions.  University of Washington Graduate Admissions information.

On-Line Enrollment

Once admitted to the graduate program, graduate students may register online for classes. Registration is now offered exclusively at myuw.washington.edu.