Dentists As Primary Care Providers and Expert Opinion

Timothy Martinez DMD

November 1, 2022

Expert opinion is an increasingly important part of patient-centered care. The traditional divide between dental and medical care must be bridged for patient-centered care. This will require better communication and referral between dental and medical offices. This is the first step toward integrating these two disciplines. Dentists As Primary Care Providers and Expert Opinion

Clinical guidelines

Although many guidelines have been developed for integrating dentistry and primary care, only some have focused on integrating dental care into primary care. Despite the benefits of linking primary care and dentistry, implementing clinical guidelines has faced many barriers, including lack of time, reimbursement, and staff buy-in.

Case studies

Dentists are increasingly playing an essential role in the primary healthcare process. They help prevent and treat disease and are valuable to the team in various settings. However, there are several barriers to dental care as a primary care provider. These barriers include the lack of interoperability between EHRs, low patient motivation, and inadequate capacity to accommodate referrals.

For example, the costs of travel to a dentist’s office are often prohibitive for rural residents. One participant described the commute as “nearly impossible.” In addition, residents may be required to rely on someone else to drive them to the office. Further, travel may be difficult when public transportation is not available. Other barriers to dental care include childcare, airfare, and accommodations.

Communication problems

A survey of dental practitioners found that more than half reported experiencing communication problems with patients. In addition, more than half of dental assistants said communication issues with patients. The study also found that communication barriers were more common among older female dentists or from outside the US. But, again, pediatric dentists were the exception to the rule. Of the surveyed dentists, 73 percent have never taken a health communication course, but 68 percent are interested in continuing their education.

Findings from the study suggest a need for more collaboration among dentists and rural primary care providers. However, it also indicates that there may be high turnover among medical staff in rural areas, contributing to the need for more collaboration.

Economic impact

A recent study assessed the economic impact of dentists acting as primary care providers. By embedding dental care into a primary care practice, dentists can improve the health of their patients and reduce the cost of dental care. In addition, this practice model allows patients to share their health information with multiple healthcare providers without incurring extra charges, improving patient health and financial security.

The authors found that dental practices experienced a significant decrease in procedure volume during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, while dental care use remained lower than before the outbreak. These findings suggest that widespread economic uncertainty and changes to health systems associated with COVID-19 may have impacted dentists’ patient volumes. To assess whether these factors affected dental care use, the authors examined differences in dentist visits and procedures among insured patients since the outbreak of COVID-19. They also looked at variations in dental care use by patient age, procedure type, dental practice size, and geographical area. Finally, they also examined the feasibility of obtaining county-level data to better understand dental care usage among these vulnerable populations.

Integration of dental and primary care

Integrating dental and primary care providers is an increasingly important goal for health systems. Such a partnership allows health systems to provide a single patient view of their health records and to improve communication between dental and primary care providers. As a result, patients can benefit from more personalized care and better access to various treatment options.

Integration of dental and primary care providers has proven to be a highly effective strategy for improving access to care, particularly among underserved populations. Primary care providers are well-positioned to screen patients for oral health risks during medical visits, reinforce messages about at-home care, and serve as an entry point for dental care.