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University of Pennsylvania

The Oral Cavity: Portal to Health and Disease

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


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This course will focus on the interprofessional realtionship of dentistry and medicine. For each session, the medical specialist will present a broad overview of specific disease entity which will be followed by a dental educator discussing the relevant oral manifestations and implications. The final module of each session will be devoted to the interaction between the dental and other health care professionals.


  • The Interplay Between Medicine and Dentistry
    • This course will use the expertise of specialists from both medicine and dentistry to provide perspectives on a wide range of topics that significantly impact both fields. By explaining each field and the ways in which dental and medical specialists work together to manage affected patients, these specialists highlight the interdisciplinary nature of health care today using a particular example each week. In our introductory videos, we introduce the importance of these topics and of the interplay between medicine and dentistry through the lens of the specialty of oral medicine.
  • Pain management: approaches and challenges
    • In Week 2, we will discuss pain, both as a general concept and as it relates to certain conditions. This will include defining pain and its types, discussing multiple treatment modalities, and explaining some pains specific to the head and neck region. From both an oral medicine and pain management perspective, this difficult topic will be examined and expert diagnosis and treatment opinions will be provided.
  • Diabetic patients and their care
    • Week 3 focuses on diabetes, a very prevalent, but often not well understood disease that materially impacts both medicine and dentistry. Our discussion of this topic will include an in depth description of types of diabetes, treatments and how they differ based on type, and lifestyle management of these patients. It will also deal with dental management of the diabetic patient specifically, including recommendations for how to approach treatment of patients with diabetes.
  • Endocrine disorders: understanding thyroid cancer and osteoporosis
    • In week 4, we will continue our discussion of endocrine diseases by covering two other relatively common conditions, thyroid cancer and osteoporosis. Both of these diseases present significant challenges to dental management of patients as well as presenting interesting and difficult medical challenges. For both diseases, the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment will be covered and related to the impact of the disease on dental care and some important negative effects to be aware of in the oral cavity.
  • Care of cardiovascular diseases and infections
    • This week will review management of cardiac conditions, both generally and specifically in dental medicine. This will include explanations of some of the most prevalent cardiac conditions as well as discussion on the difficulties of treating select patients. This provides a widely applicable but also specific overview of risks to patients generally and in the dental office, management and treatment, and ways that providers and patients can work together to ensure positive outcomes for all.
  • Dermatologic conditions of the oral cavity
    • Week 6 presents an explanation of common dermatologic conditions that can frequently affect the oral cavity. The lectures in this module focus on the three most prevalent autoimmune reactions to occur in the mouth; lichen planus, pemphigoid, and pemphigus. The lectures in this week explain these conditions, comment on some possible treatments, and discuss the importance of co-management between the fields of dentistry and medicine, not to mention some specific examples of interdisciplinary division of treatment.
  • Blood and bone marrow cancers
    • In this section, we will discuss blood and bone marrow cancers. This is a complex topic and our lectures will explain some of the differences between each type of these cancers in both disease characteristics and management. For management, we will review both traditional and cutting edge modalities used in certain cases. We will also discuss the importance of the oral cavity in both diagnosis and treatment of these cancers. Whether as the first sign of disease, an area affected by treatment, or a potential cause of complications, the oral cavity can truly in leukemia be a portal to health and disease.
  • Understanding head and neck cancers
    • Our last section deals with a very serious and important topic, that of cancers of the head and neck region. Our lectures will explain some types of head and neck cancer, but will focus on oral squamous cell carcinoma, the most common of these. We will discuss diagnosis and management of these patients, paying attention to the important role of all providers in cancer while also providing a video of transoral robotic surgery for cancer. In this way, we will address all aspects of oral cancer treatment, from initial diagnosis to thorough treatment.
  • Final Exam

Taught by

Dr. Thomas P. Sollecito, Dr. Eric Stoopler and Dr. Uri Hangorsky


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.9 rating at Coursera based on 742 ratings

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  • Anonymous
    This course was great. Especially the way it was performed was really intreating. It was like a discussion and I really did not think that i'm passing a course. I wanna thank Dr. Stopler, Dr. Sollecito and all the other professor who made this course really intresging.

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