Is healthcare headed in a new direction, focusing on the mouth and the state of oral health to detect all physical illnesses in humans? Can Oral health really be an indicator of total health? Let’s look at the current on-going dental research at medical and dental schools.
Expanding access to dental care
The Kellogg Foundation released a study in April 2012 that reviews more than 1,100 reports regarding dental therapists and their work in various countries. The report documents evidence that dental therapists can effectively expand access to dental care, especially for children. In addition, the report shows that the care they provide is technically competent, safe and effective. Finally, the report showed that the public values the role of dental therapists and there is strong patient and parental support for their work.
New diagnostic procedures
Imagine a world where blood does not have to be drawn to test if you’re sick! Dr. David Wong, DMD, Associate Dean of Research at UCLA, and his research team are envisioning a world where a visit to the dental office can save your life. Dr. Wong is working on developing noninvasive procedures such as salivary diagnosis that could save countless lives and save billions of dollars.
New technology in replacing teeth
Researchers at UCSF are working on a technique that might someday make replacement teeth a reality. When Doctor Ophir Klein, MD, PhD, looks at the badly deformed teeth in some patient photos, he dreams of someday being able to replace them with real teeth created in a lab. As a result, in the long run you could “take a not fully developed precursor organ and implant into the jaw and allow it to develop there,” Dr. Klein said. His lab is also working on understanding how adult stem cells develop and how they contribute to organ renewal.
The “think differently” affordable care act requires a 21st century healthcare program that includes concepts such as:
- Emphasis on prevention
- Measured Improved/Positive Outcomes
- Innovative oral health and total body diagnostics
- Living healthier, longer, more productive lives
- Preparing for end of life care
Dentists will continue to treat the ever present problems of the past. In addition, “new normal” dental professionals who utilize new dental research will become an integral part of 21st century healthcare.
Utilizing their education, knowledge, and expertise, dental hygienists and dental therapists are first responders in keeping us healthy for life!