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MNAAP Newsletter

Open Up! Addressing Oral Health at Well Visits

eileen crespoBy Eileen Crespo, MD, FAAP, Vice President of Medical Services, Delta Dental Minnesota; pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare

Have you been to an adult dentist lately? If you have, you may have had your blood pressure measured. You might have thought that odd, but many dental practices are screening adults for high blood pressure. The goal is to screen and refer patients who may have regular dental care but may not be having regular medical care. The intention is to have dental and medical providers join efforts in collaborative patient care, working as a team.

In pediatrics, we are familiar with the concept of the medical home, a coordinated approach to providing comprehensive primary care for children, youth and adults. For many patients, the medical home might be comprised of primary care, medical specialties, social workers, community health workers and dieticians, but no oral health provider. The dental home is somehow separate, though poor oral health doesn’t follow arbitrary divisions.

We all have taken care of children with rampant dental decay that affects their overall health. From a sleepless night for a child with tooth pain or preoperative clearance for a child with special health care needs who needs surgical restorations for widespread dental caries, patients need an integrated approach that includes oral health as a basic primary care need.

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