Your MD & Me: The oral-systemic link and the dental hygienist

December 18, 2014

How many times have we reviewed our patients’ health history and shared the oral systemic link connecting their current health, recent surgery or medication to their current state of oral health? If you answered countless … I’m with you.

How many times have we reviewed our patients’ health history and shared the oral systemic link connecting their current health, recent surgery or medication to their current state of oral health? If you answered countless … I’m with you.

Have you ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the medical and dental professionals could just get along and work as a team for our patients’ best chance at total health?”

Now, what if I told you that there are dental practices whose philosophy embraces that? If you are a dental hygienist who seeks to extend your clinical realm, then our video series “Your MD & Me” may whet your palate for more information on how this may be a fit for you in your hygiene career.

Recently, I sat down with our colleague, Stephanie Lodding, RDH. She is president of The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH) and the only RDH to hold this esteemed position! Her passion and expertise for introducing communication, skill sets, research, and teamwork between both medical and dental professionals has proven results.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to work with physicians to bridge the oral-systemic gap

Many of us may immediately think of periodontal disease and how it is the culprit of chronic inflammation linked to heart disease or stroke. We educate and treatment plan for periodontal therapy. This protocol has been successful for thousands of dental hygienists and their patients. However, something is still missing. Those same patients are still fighting heart disease, stroke, etc.

What if we educated and aligned ourselves with our medical professionals as we do periodontists, oral surgeons, and endodontists? Imagine how powerful the communication and results would be IF our physicians and specialists viewed periodontal disease as a medical disease which medical professionals cannot literally treat?

RELATED ARTICLE: Why oral-systemic health and EHRs make a great marriage

Although AAOSH is in its fourth year as an association, it continues to grow each year. Dental hygienists are encouraged to check out the benefits of membership and how those will impact the way you practice. The refreshing news is how the union of both fields blends what we are taught regarding nutrition, occlusion, chronic infection, caries, and oral cancer and extends that opportunity to be a part of a change in your practice. Do your research, discover whether this concept is a fit for the direction of how you want to practice, and take action.

RELATED ARTICLE: Is it practical to screen for diabetes during routine dental visits

Tis the season of giving and celebrating. Perhaps the real gift is giving our patients healthier lives to live by strategizing with our medical professionals! It is then we will witness what it means to “Take What You Learn & Make a Difference with It.”