UIC College of Dentistry has expanded Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic
May 4, 2018

Drs. Jasjot Sahni, Beth Miloro, and Harvey Wigdor provide patient care at the Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic at the UIC College of Dentistry.

By William S. Bike

The Department of Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences (OMDS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry has expanded the scope of its Oral Medicine Clinic, which now is the Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic.

Harvey Wigdor, DDS, MS, professor, OMDS, is chief of the new clinic, which is located on the first floor of the College of Dentistry at 801 S. Paulina St.

“It’s not just a name change,” Wigdor explained. “It’s a significant difference. We have been treating orofacial pain in patients. But now that we’ve brought on Dr. Jasjot Sahni, who was trained at USC in an Orofacial Pain/Oral Medicine residency, her presence makes a tremendous difference in treating unusual and unique orofacial pain patients.”

Wigdor noted that Beth Miloro, DDS, MPH, clinical assistant professor, OMDS, also is a key faculty member in the Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic.

“This clinic can only be successful with outstanding clinicians such as Dr. Miloro, Dr. Sahni, and others,” he said.

Besides an increased emphasis on treating orofacial pain, Wigdor noted the new clinic will “provide the dental students with more of an understanding of the medical model—how to take a good health history,” he said. “When you read the literature on physical diagnosis, many practitioners believe that 80% of performing a correct diagnosis is attained through proper health histories.”

The new clinic also emphasizes collaboration. “We had a patient suffering from Crohn’s disease who was developing oral ulcers,” Wigdor explained. “Oral ulcers are not uncommon with patients who present with Crohn’s or irritable bowel syndrome, but dentists and gastroenterologists may not always be familiar with this. That’s an example of why they should collaborate and why taking a good health history is crucial.”

Close Collaborations

The clinic is developing a closer collaboration with the Department of Dermatology at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System (UI Health) as well. “A lot of what we treat are dermatologic lesions,” Wigdor explained. “There are times we need to lean on a dermatologist to help us out because there are a lot of medicines available for dermatologic lesions that they work with much more commonly than we do.”

The Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic also welcomes outside referrals.

Wigdor started at the UIC College of Dentistry as a student and joined the faculty after he earned his DDS in 1976.

“I was in the first dental class in the College building in 1972, so I’ve been here 35 years,” Wigdor said. “So I basically opened up the place and never left.”

Wigdor thanked Richard Monahan, DDS, MS, head of OMDS, for naming him chief of the new Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic.

In addition to his work at the College of Dentistry, Wigdor spent 15 years as chair of the Department of Dentistry at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital and directed its General Practice Residency training program.

Treating chronic pain

Sahni, who holds a BDS and a certificate in oral medicine and orofacial pain, said, “I deal with chronic orofacial pain, including mainly temporomandibular disorders and neuropathic pain, on a daily basis. I’m also trained in dental sleep medicine and oral medicine.”

In addition, Sahni diagnoses and treats lesions, headaches, neuropathic pain, trigeminal neuropathy and neuralgia, myofascial pain, muscle pain, joint issues, TMD, burning mouth syndrome, dry mouth, bruxism, halitosis, and sleep disorders caused by craniofacial issues.

Treating orofacial pain remains her primary focus. “We’re adding an important component of orofacial pain treatment and offering services for patients who cannot get help elsewhere,” Sahni said.

“I use conservative, reversible, and holistic treatments, and if needed, we refer the patients appropriately to specialists including oral surgeons, physical therapists, psychotherapists, neurologists, sleep physicians, and chronic pain physicians. This multidisciplinary approach is the key in managing these complex pain patients. I always tell my patients that I am going to manage their pain and do not promise a cure to their conditions.”

Miloro is an expert on oral mucosal diseases, oral cancer, and xerostomia (dry mouth). Her research focuses on oral diagnostics, prevention, and public health.

Her Master’s in Public Health, with an emphasis in health policy and administration from the UIC School of Public Health, gave her information benefiting her work at the College of Dentistry.

“I gained new insights into cultural sensitivity and barriers to care,” Miloro noted. “I have been able to apply this knowledge in the Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic. I also received valuable experience in conducting research regarding trends in health care utilization and access that I plan to continue with here at the College of Dentistry.”

To contact the Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain Clinic, call (312) 355-1222 or email oralmedicine@uic.edu.

The UIC College of Dentistry is the largest college of dentistry in the State of Illinois and is a worldwide leader in oral health education, clinical care, and research. It is a part of UI Health and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago’s largest university.