Opportunities and Challenges

Considering that in 2009, 62% of adults ages 18-64 and 60% of adults ages 65 or older visited a dentist, OHCPs are in a unique position to play a pivotal role in a hypertension-related wellness program.44 Data from patients seeking dental treatment suggest that patients are willing to participate in medical screening by dentists.45,46 The majority of OHCPs consider medical screening in oral healthcare settings important, but report inadequate knowledge and training as barriers to incorporate such activities into practice.47

The Committee on the Future of Dental Education, Institute of Medicine, declared that “oral healthcare is part of comprehensive healthcare” and recommended to “increase the knowledge of dental faculty in clinical medicine so that they…can impart medical knowledge to dental students and serve as role models for them.”48 Therefore, it is axiomatic that OHCPs should master the broad scope, not necessarily the depth, of knowledge required of a family physician. The proposition may be viewed as revolutionary. Actualization of this concept, however, is inherently evolutionary. The objective can be achieved in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable laws.