Because Dentistry is Not Only about Teeth
By: Dr. Weam Banjar, BDS., MS in clinical research
Research had proven the interaction between oral/ dental and systemic health. However, many still consider dental care a luxury. Despite proven relationship between dental/ oral health and pregnancy outcomes, obstetric gynecologist rarely refer pregnant women to dentists for evaluation and care. Similar observation had been noted for internist and surgeons.
Pain is the primary motive for individual to seek dental care. Afterward, the systemic conditions are often improved. Thus, dental evaluation should be considered as a pivotal component for general health assessment. The holistic approach to health should be adopted, and the culture of multidisciplinary evidence based care should be adopted. Many dental conditions start as a low-grade painless progressive diseases. Yet, based on remote infection theory, oral/dental inflammation may trigger inflammatory immune response that may affect any body organ. Understanding the mechanism of action based on remote infection theory should help improve the quality of medical schools curriculum. Students’ training based on acknowledgement of the role of dental/ oral health would produce a generation of physicians whom are aware of factors that may improve the prognosis of their patients conditions previously were not considered. Not only physical health could be affected by the oral/ dental health. Evidence suggested strong association between oral/ dental health and individual psychological wellbeing. Cosmetic and function dental therapeutic may produce the best outcome if supported with appropriate psychological care. Nevertheless, many psychological disorders are linked to dental/oral presentation.
A holistic approach to establish multidisciplinary evidence-based health care should be considered by policy makers in order to improve the quality of care. Comprehensive/dental examination should be included into basic physical exam to establish a panoramic overview for the overall individual health. Medical schools may benefit from dental schools experience in teaching joint classes to introduce medical students to fundamentals of dentistry.