The general health of your patients is no longer just the purview of the medical physician. Dentists are playing an ever-increasing role in helping to determine the influence of sleep issues and their effect on snoring, grinding, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, apnea and many other afflictions. Their advantage is their focus on the oral cavity and being able to observe patients’ dental anomalies that can be the root cause of the maladies. Many dentists now offer general health assessments to raise patient awareness and prevention.
Oral Health Group recently sent out a survey to Canadian dentists to determine how many of the respondents are evaluating their patient’s overall health and they found a high percentage that did. Not all are interested in taking the steps to ask their patients questions which would aid in diagnosing potential health issues, but a high percentage do.
As might be expected, practice sizes yielded varying results, i.e. the larger practices found a higher interest level in the dentists’ participation in screening their patients, though an even higher percentage thought it would be beneficial.
What were the differences in the practice responses?
- The level of busy-ness of the offices
- The number of staff members devoted to the day-to-day running of the business
- The amount and quality of training it takes to understand the screening process for oral cancer, bruxism, diabetes, etc.
- The size of the practice (over $500,000 practices have the most amount of interest and participation)
- The work/production expectations of the dentists by the practice owners
It has become increasingly apparent that the dentist is often the first line of offense for prevention. As the increase of oral general health screenings increase, more and more dental practitioners are aligning themselves with physicians and specialists to help in the prevention and mitigation of systemic and often dangerous health problems.
As patients become more educated about the dentist being able to help in the screening and, in concert with a physician, ultimately the diagnosis of problems that might be serious, there will be more demand for this. In fact, the high number of practices offering the service and various oral appliances shows the level of growing interest in both dentists and physicians trying to provide the most timely and comprehensive health care possible.
A study showing the growth of dental practices offering these services in Canada was published in Oral Health magazine. Read it to learn about the growth of dental offices offering overall health assessments and, if you are a dentist, consider that you might join the growing number.
If you're interested in learning more about screening your patients for airway issues or would like some additional information, contact your Whip Mix Representative, Shirlene (Charlie) O'Russa at (309) 696-9287.