Identification of At-risk Patients in the Dental Office: Screening and Referral

A readily available screening tool that allows dentists to assess level of depression is critical to identify the high number of individuals with undiagnosed mental disorders. A recent investigation demonstrated that dentists can effectively evaluate patients to identify both undiagnosed and undertreated depression with an eight question survey instrument, the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale (PHQ8) (Figure 4).78,79 This may allow for dental healthcare practitioners to evaluate levels of depression in their patients and to refer patients to appropriate medical healthcare professionals. Furthermore, education and resources should be provided for individuals who are treating patients with diagnosed anxiety and depression so that they can discuss the oral implications of these diseases and the medications used to treat the diseases with patients to allow for continued monitoring and treatment of patients’ oral health.

Figure 4. A Simplified Screening Tool for Depression/Anxiety.80
Simplified Screening Tool for Depression/Anxiety