A new paradigm between dentistry and medicine is now developing regarding patient care. As the oral systemic connection is more clearly understood, dentists who are trained in diagnosing oral and periodontal disease will play a greater role in the overall health of their patients. Many times, the first signs of unnatural systemic health conditions reveal themselves in changes within the oral cavity. Medical histories should be carefully reviewed when “at risk” patients are identified. A comprehensive Periodontal Risk Evaluation should be performed and results should be sent to the patient’s treating physician(s).
Physicians will play a more active role in the oral systemic connection. They will screen at-risk patients for the common signs of periodontal disease, which include bleeding gums, swollen gums, pus, shifting teeth, chronic bad breath and family history of periodontal disease. When appropriate, they will refer them to dentists and periodontists who are uniquely qualified to evaluate and treat their patient’s oral conditions. This new era of interdisciplinary dental/medical cooperation will undoubtedly result in improved patient health, as well as an improvement in overall patient longevity.
Goals of Oral Screening
Clinicians can perform a thorough and systematic oral, head, and neck exam in a medical setting.
Oral Exam Check Off List
When was you last dental visit?
Do you have any pain or sensitivity?
Do you have any new lumps or bumps in your mouth or neck?
Do your gums bleed when you floss or brush your teeth?
Do you or your family have a history of periodontal disease?
Do you have any teeth you can’t bite down on due to discomfort?
Signs of Periodontal disease
Sore or swollen gums
Chronic bad breath
Pus around teeth
Pain upon chewing
Recent bite change
Spaces between teeth
Food accumulation in gums
Oral signs of insulin resistance
Four or more missing teeth
23% of periodontal pockets , 5mm and bleeding
A1C 5.7 or greater
Examples of Red Flag Conditions
Oral Cancer of the tongue
Oral Cancer of the lip
1. Healthy Gums
2. Early Stage of Gum Disease (Gingivitis) – can be cured by brushing and flossing to remove the plaque build-up causing the problem.
3. Later Stage of Gum Disease – can no longer be fixed by brushing and flossing, it needs to be taken to a dentist as soon as possible!
1. Healthy Teeth
2. Medium sized cavities (holes) caused by tooth decay
3. Large cavities caused by tooth decay – can be fixed, although may need root canal treatment and the teeth will be weakened for life.
Appropriate referrals are an integral part of complete quality health care management. Referrals should be based on the education, training, interest, and experience of the referring dentist and the unique needs of the patient. Dentists and physicians are expected to recognize the extent of the treatment needs of their patients and when referrals are necessary. Dr. McClatchie is a knowledgeable dentist who is able to co-treat patients for optimal care. Additionally, many patients seen are in need for primary care physicians and/or specialists. As an advocate for her patients, Dr. McClatchie recommends that her patients visit their physicians when signs/symptoms of disease are seen at her office, or if the patient presents high risk factors.
As a proud member of The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, AAOSH, Dr. McClatchie is dedicated to its mission as she has personally seen the relationship between the mouth and the body. AAOSH is an organization of health care professionals dedicated to the relationship of oral health and whole body health. The mission of AAOSH is to create relationships between all healthcare professions, resulting in better patient care and quality of life. In order to complete this, changing public and professional awareness of the mouth-body health link is necessary.
AAOSH demonstrates and shows the connection of the mouth with the body and uses this to teach. AAOSH not only concentrates on educating the health care professional, but also the general public and patients as well. The members of this organization are passionate in their education of medical and dental professionals to bridge the gap between these areas of concentration. AAOSH uses current and emerging science and technology to demonstrate the ever growing knowledge of the oral-systemic link. This will benefit millions of people, and better grow the knowledge of health care providers.
It has been seen that long term infections in the mouth increase systemic functions and affect entire body functions. The mouth is said to be the doorway of the mouth as everything that is consumed/taken in first must be introduced to the environment of the mouth.
Sleep apnea and oral airway, TMD and headaches, dental caries, and oral cancer are all functions of the mouth that play a role in the health of the body. These factors of the mouth and many more show how important it is to consider the role that the mouth has on the rest of the body, as prevention and treating oral and systemic diseases are linked together in more ways than have ever been seen.
Oral Health needs a new definition. And it should be supported by all medical professionals that are dedicated to working and learning together in a spirit of collaborative cooperation. Patients will enjoy the resulting benefits of improved oral and general health, healing, longevity and wellness.