Oral health professionals can improve population health

By DrBicuspid.com staff writers

January 26, 2021 -- Although challenges need to be overcome, oral health professionals have an opportunity to take a crucial role in improving the overall health of the population, according to an essay published in the January issue of the Journal of Dental Education.

Twenty years ago, Surgeon General David Satcher challenged all health providers to play a role in improving oral health, noted American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Chair-elect Dr. Keith Mays, PhD, in the perspectives article.

"I would suggest that, not only should all [healthcare] providers contribute to enhancing oral health, but that oral health providers should contribute to enhancing overall health," Mays wrote.

However, several obstacles remain in the way of that goal, including a healthcare system that's often too fragmented, inadequate communication between dental health providers and the overall medical team, and financial reimbursement models that do not support oral health professional screening for chronic diseases, according to Mays, who is also interim dean at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

"Despite these and other obstacles, we are still in a moment of significant opportunity for oral health professionals to contribute to the improvement of overall health in the population," he wrote.

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