A Special Note of Welcome to Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Dental Assistants & Business Staff
Thank you for your interest in oral-systemic science, and its application to your clinical practice.
As you know, scientific investigation conducted over recent decades has provided compelling evidence that overall health can be directly related to controlling infection and inflammation within the oral cavity. We also know that establishing a healthy oral environment is conducive to overall health and well-being. Oral diseases have garnered a lot of attention from governmental authorities, professional organizations, health departments, insurance companies, radio, television and press.
Setting the Stage for Medical-Dental Collaboration
Up until recently, research on oral-systemic relationships was reported solely in dental journals; however, in recent years, compelling evidence of how oral diseases and conditions may compromise systemic health has been published in many highly respected medical journals. Indeed, this expanding base of evidence has come to the forefront, and as such, various non-dental healthcare providers (HCPs) are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate this information into their clinical practices. This sets the stage for very valuable interprofessional collaboration that targets systemic diseases and conditions that are influenced or complicated by infections and other pathologies of the oral cavity. Reconnecting the mouth to the rest of the body and co-management of patients with diseases and conditions with oral-systemic implications are long overdue.
The Importance of Dismantling Traditional Silos of Practice
But, educating non-dental HCPs about the significance of oral health is only one part of the challenge in reconnecting the mouth to the rest of the body. Generally speaking, HCPs have practiced in silos, similar to the way we were educated and trained. This is no different for dentists and dental hygienists (i.e., oral HCPs). Traditionally, oral HCPs have not been educated or trained to participate in the management of chronic diseases, or identify patients at risk for such things as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This has led to fragmentation of care, and played out when oral HCPs are reluctant to look beyond the oral cavity. With the growing appreciation of the need to address patient care systemically and holistically, it is the obligation of oral HCPs to be as thorough as possible in searching for information that may lead to a diagnosis of systemic diseases and conditions. Technological advances such as salivary diagnostics and other chairside tools which enable us to screen for common and life threatening diseases and conditions have empowered oral HCPs to participate in chronic disease management. This offers hope in changing the trajectory of many chronic disease states, especially in certain high risk populations where things such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are disproportionately concentrated.
The Role of Oral HCPs in Patients’ Primary Healthcare
This also presents new opportunities for expanding the role of oral HCPs in the primary health care arena. With routine dental visits, oral HCPs are often the first line of defense in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of systemic diseases. Empowering oral HCPs to assess dental patients’ overall health, screen for such things as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and make the appropriate referral to non-dental HCPs, is a major paradigm shift. It also ramps up the opportunity for oral HCPs to contribute to improved health outcomes and integrate dental care into the larger healthcare system.
Shared Responsibilities in the Co-Management of Chronic Diseases
Clearly there is a need for shared responsibility in the medicine and dentistry in the co-management of chronic disease states associated with the oral-systemic interrelationships. Given the depth and breadth of evidence of oral-systemic links, it will not be long before non-dental HCPs come to see oral health as a legitimate domain of involvement for their profession. The counterpart to this is that oral HCPs must acquire a better understanding of the systemic implications of oral disease. To that end, one of the most important aspects of the mission of Casey Hein & Associates is to inspire oral HCPs to look beyond the oral cavity and empower them to identify and refer patients at risk for systemic diseases related to oral diseases and conditions.
I hope you will take advantage of the resources we have provided on www.caseyhein.com and the courses on www.oralhealthed.com. I would be honored to present a program for your school or organization. Please assist us in fulfilling our mission by providing input on how we can better help you achieve your educational goals to improve the health of your patients through application of oral-systemic science.