What is Stomatology?

Mary McMahon

Stomatology is a medical discipline which concerns the study of the mouth. Historically it was a recognized medical specialty in many regions of the world, although today people are more likely to refer to stomatology as “dental medicine,” depending on where they are located. In some countries, it is still possible to specialize in stomatology as a discipline separate from dentistry.

Part of stomatology is the study of the different roles of teeth in the mouth.
Part of stomatology is the study of the different roles of teeth in the mouth.

Stomatologists, like other medical professionals, study the anatomy and physiology of the body, in this case focusing on the mouth and related structures, to learn about the anatomy of healthy people. This includes the study of teeth, looking about how teeth form and the roles of different types of teeth in the mouth, along with studies of the mucus membranes in the mouth, the jaw, and the palate. Anatomy education is accomplished with the help of a variety of resources, including anatomy textbooks, cadavers to study, and interactions with living patients.

A yeast infection can occur in the mouth.
A yeast infection can occur in the mouth.

These medical professionals also study the pathology of disease processes in the mouth, including everything from yeast infections to necrosis of the jaw. A stomatologist can use a variety of diagnostic tools to identify problems in the mouth, including medical imaging studies to look at the teeth, cultures to explore the possibility of bacterial infection, physical examinations, and bloodwork to see if oral problems are related to or causing systemic problems.

The practice of stomatology is more often called dentistry in the United States.
The practice of stomatology is more often called dentistry in the United States.

The practice of stomatology also includes performing a variety of procedures in the mouth. During their training, stomatologists have an opportunity to watch and practice a wide range of oral procedures so that they can learn to do them safely, correctly, and quickly. Things like tooth extractions, gum grafts, and fillings can all fall under the heading of the practice of stomatology. The study of stomatology also includes the application of knowledge from this field to forensics, to identify victims, criminals, and other people involved in forensic cases.

A stomatologist examines, diagnoses and treats issues involving the teeth and gums.
A stomatologist examines, diagnoses and treats issues involving the teeth and gums.

This discipline can be quite broad, and there are a number of settings in which it can be applied including classrooms, clinics, hospitals, and forensic facilities. The length of time spent studying stomatology can vary, depending on where someone intends to work and what kind of practice he or she is interested in. As a general rule, people should plan on being in school for at least 10 years to study stomatology and pursue a professional career in this field, including undergraduate work along with medical education, residency, fellowships, and postgraduate work.

A stomatologist may use bloodwork to determine if oral problems are related to systemic problems in the body.
A stomatologist may use bloodwork to determine if oral problems are related to systemic problems in the body.
A tooth extraction can be considered part of stomatology.
A tooth extraction can be considered part of stomatology.

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Discussion Comments

anon248668

Stoma means a hole. Or something we do not see when we observe something (an illusion).

JaneAir

@JessicaLynn - Medical terminology can be a little confusing at times. The prefix that refers to stomach is actually "gastro," which sounds like it would mean gas.

I'm personally terrified to go to the dentist no matter what they're called!

JessicaLynn

Stomatologist certainly is a mouthful, no pun intended. I can understand why people prefer to just call them dentists. Also, the prefix "stoma" makes me think that the word refers to the stomach. I think that would just get too confusing!

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