Dentistry needs a seat at the table in healthcare. Here's what it would look like.

As the connection between oral and overall health becomes more apparent, more organizations are working to integrate dentistry with other healthcare services.

"In a dental setting, the dentist not only does a complete dental examination but also should complete a complete medical history and take the patient's blood pressure, for example, if they're having some kind of surgical procedure," John Luther, DDS, chief dental officer of Western Dental & Orthodontics, told Becker's on April 29. "What that means then is that the dentist would refer the patient if they have an untreated medical problem to the appropriate physicians. That's one way that care is coordinated."

Dental industry players have been planting seeds in the healthcare world for a while.

In April, Pacific Dental Services launched a medical-dental practice in Las Vegas. The facility is part of the DSO's Mouth-Body Connection initiative, designed to educate patients on the link between oral health and overall well-being.

In July, Pacific Dental also opened three other integrated practices in a single location in Henderson, Nev. The practice offers primary medical care, oral care, preventive medicine, chronic disease management, sleep studies and medical and surgery clearance.

"One interesting thing that Western Dental is doing around care coordination is we're now piloting eye care in the dental setting. In our margin or offices, we are piloting having an optometrist who may provide eyeglasses for patients in the same facility," Dr. Luther told Becker's. "These are things that haven't been tried routinely, but it's one step closer to getting patients the care they need in one location."

Another way dental has been making its presence known in the healthcare space is through the addition of teledentistry services to healthcare.

The TeleDentists, a network of dentists offering their services in virtual settings, recently created the first integrated dental-medical platform.

"There are so many different aspects that you can integrate teledentistry and primary care. We can teach nurses and technicians how to apply fluoride so that kids that go in to see their primary care [physician] can get their fluoride application during their time there, and it's all billable codes," Leah Sigler, president of the TeleDentists, told Becker's on May 6. 

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