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    Who is on your interdisciplinary team?

    An interdisciplinary team should extend outside the dental practice.

    Imagine my surprise when I heard someone talking about an interdisciplinary team comprised of the receptionist, dental assistant, practice manager, dentist and dental hygienist. I suppose that’s right but a true interdisciplinary team refers to medical disciplines, like dentistry, cardiology, respiratory, chiropractor, oncology and pediatrics to name a few. That’s the best way to treat the whole patient.

    Recently I was going through my charts for the day and noticed a health history that just didn’t match the view of the tooth chart on the computer. Although the patient was born in the 1970’s, they had a number of crowns, a root canal and new areas of decay waiting for treatment. The health history listed a thyroid condition, some medications for thyroid and nothing else. There was a total mismatch. If this had been 2013, I would have had nothing to offer that patient other than more frequent recare appointments and a xylitol protocol. Now I ask questions about the airway.

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    The patient presented with comments about restless sleeping, snoring, and sinus problems that were not apparent when she filled out the form years ago so she didn’t think to add it. Visual inspection revealed an enlarged uvula, mandibular torus and maxillary exostosis. We started talking more about her sleeping and breathing and it became more and more apparent that she needed a sleep study. 

    The mismatched health history and dental history has never been so revealing as it is today. So many conditions are exasperated by poor sleep or hypoxic events during sleep that new questions need to be asked. Flossing won’t cure those problems.

    Working together with other medical teams are what’s called for today. In this case a sleep (aka airway) dentist, a dental hygienist, a myofunctional therapist, sleep physician, chiropractor, naturopath, and others from different disciplines. Whether there’s a causal relationship between oral health and systemic conditions or not, there’s enough evidence today to force a new way of looking at our patients. 

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    For more information on sleep disorders and the interdisciplinary team, visit www.AAPMD.org 

    For more information on OMT or for introductory classes visit www.aomtinfo.org.

    To refer virtual clients for OMT contact Shirley Gutkowski at [email protected]


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