Comprehending ‘Comprehensive Dentistry’

To practice truly comprehensive dentistry, consider a patient’s current condition in terms of (in order) health, function and aesthetics. The benefits of doing so include improving patient lives, as well as increasing revenue, attracting and retaining more patients, and giving staff a sense of greater purpose and vision.

The “HFA model” challenges dentists and their teams to focus on practices that take the patient’s entire health into consideration, from initial assessment to interventions made.

Health: Oral and systemic health are fundamentally connected; there’s not just a focus on teeth.

Function: The practice examines not just how teeth fit together but also phonetics, respiration, digestion and how this system operates with the rest of the body.

Aesthetics: The appearance of a patient’s teeth, mouth and jaw structure can profoundly affect his or her sense of self-esteem, as well as the patient’s perceived and real ability to interact socially and advance professionally. Mental and social health should also be considered within a dental assessment.

It’s Up to Us

According to the NIH and the U.S. surgeon general’s office, a physical examination of the mouth can indicate disease, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and additional critical information about a patient’s general health status.

Unfortunately, many people still consider good dental care to be a luxury, and many dentists resign themselves to the public’s view. But for patients who suffer from diabetes, heart disease or other physical and emotional ailments, good oral health could mean the difference between life and death.

The only way patients will understand the effect oral health has on their overall health is if their dentist tells them. No other health professionals are adequately trained in oral health to be prepared to share that information with them. Failure to recognize this limits dentistry’s power in the marketplace, diminishes the field’s standing in the healthcare community, and promotes risks to patients in achieving and maintaining their health.

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Originally Published: DentalTown, Feb 2017