Article: Volume 48 Number 4 Page 316 - April 2021

  Dent Update 2021; 48: 316-322  Read article

Oral medicine:  Medically unexplained oral symptoms

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Abstract: Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are common in all areas of healthcare, and when the term is applied to oral symptoms, it can be appropriately focused as medically unexplained oral symptoms (MUOS). This article reviews the causes/associations and presentations of MUOS in dentistry, and describes confusable or possible comorbid psychiatric conditions. Management of patients with MUOS in primary dental care often requires close working with the patient’s GP and other professionals. Strategies for the assessment and management of such patients are described.

Clinical relevance: Dentists in primary care are likely to see patients with medically unexplained oral symptoms. A good knowledge of the correct identification and management of these symptoms is crucial for a satisfactory outcome. A proficiency in assessing and managing MUOS patients is an important skill for all primary care dentists.

Author notes: Ben J Steel, BDS MBBS MFDS MRCS, Specialty Registrar in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Vishaal Goel, MBBS, MRCPsych, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Sunderland Psychiatric Liaison Team (Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHSFT). Paul J Dorman, MD FRCP, Consultant Neurologist, Department of Neurology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. Justin Durham, PhD, Dean and Head of School, Professor of Orofacial Pain and Honorary Consultant Oral Surgeon, School of Dental Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne. email:

Objective: The reader should be able to assess patients in primary dental care for the presence of MUOS and manage them appropriately, including consultation techniques and working with other professionals