Part of the Solution
The profession of dentistry has been aware of the link between periodontal health and systemic health for some time. Although ongoing research has yet to provide definitive evidence of causality, studies have associated severe periodontal disease with the increased risk of an ever-growing list of inflammatory conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and more. Furthermore, evidence indicates that treatment of a patient's periodontitis can alleviate the symptoms/severity of these comorbidities.
In this month's cover story, Inside Dentistry speaks with a dentist who collaborates with her cardiologist husband to deliver multidisciplinary patient care under one roof as well as other clinicians who discuss the importance of increasing patient health literacy regarding oral-systemic health, improving access to preventive care through health integration, and advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease.
We have a lot of new methods available to diagnose and treat periodontal disease now. For example, saliva testing permits the identification of a patient's specific oral pathogens. I love all of the technology for risk assessment, but like other technologies available to us, proper implementation is important to provide the best care for our patients and ensure that the practice is appropriately compensated in the process. If you're interested in offering wellness dentistry at your practice, you should seek out further education. My wife, who also is a practicing dentist, is a member of the Wellness Dentistry Network, which provides access to protocols, teaching materials, resources, and a community for support. The network's founder, Doug Thompson, DDS, also offers in-depth courses about integrating wellness dentistry into your practice at the Kois Center in Seattle, Washington. Study clubs can be another great place to learn how to approach incorporating wellness dentistry. Regardless of whether you want to fully dive into medical-dental collaboration or just positively impact the health of your patients through better education, it's important to remain aware of the evolving research in oral-systemic health.
Robert C. Margeas, DDS
Editor-in-Chief, Inside Dentistry
Private Practice, Des Moines, Iowa
Department of Operative Dentistry
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa