promoting medical/dental integration in family practice
Oral health is an important part of overall health that is especially true for Vermonters who have diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular disease or who are pregnant.
Patients who have low socioeconomic status are most at risk for oral disease, have the least access to dental care, and are also at greater risk for experiencing chronic disease. Many people who don’t receive regular dental care rely on their primary care physician to tell them if there is a problem. Even though preventative dental care is covered by Medicaid in Vermont, only about 26% of adult Vermonters insured by Medicaid access dental care annually, and only about 50% of children. Primary care practices are keenly positioned to help patients understand the linkages of oral health to systemic health, and a referral from a family physician to a dentist in the community can have a huge long term impact.
Vermont’s dental periodicity schedule outlines preventive pediatric oral health services that children should receive at their pediatric or general dental home. This schedule contains recourses to help providers implement the recommendations, and indicates where there is overlap between services that can be provided at both medical and dental homes.
- Use the Qualis Health Oral Health Integration Implementation Guide to pilot an oral health program with a targeted population (e.g., pregnant patients, children, patients with diabetes) in your practice.
- Learn about the connections between oral health and systemic health, and about how to incorporate oral health into medical practice by participating in the Smiles for Life Oral Health Curriculum.
- If you work in a practice that sees children, participate in the From the First Tooth Program. This program provides training for medical care providers about how to incorporate fluoride varnish applications as part of well child care.
- If you work in a practice that sees pregnant women, participate in the action steps outlined in the Vermont endorsement of the National Consensus Statement on the Safety and Importance of Oral Health during Pregnancy. Distribute the Vermont Pregnant Patient Oral Health Education Pamphlet to your pregnant patients (available for download here).
- Get to know each other! If you work in a medical practice, get to know the people working in dental practices in your community, and vice versa. Consider developing community referral networks between medical and dental practices, just as you do with other specialists.
- Become familiar with the oral health needs of your community. The Vermont Oral Health Coalition’s resource webpage that contains a compilation of oral health information at the state and local health office level.
If you work in a dental practice, participate in the Age One Dental Visit training. For more information about this training email Robin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.