Oral healthcare shouldn’t be an afterthought
We’re at a pivotal point in medical knowledge, technology and data science innovation over the past year, advancing consumer care in a truly impactful way. It’s now our shared responsibility to bridge the gap between oral and systemic health and help bring medical and dental professionals together so they can deliver more effective care.
Due to the pandemic, we’ve seen teledentistry play an increasing role in connecting people directly with their dental professionals. Of course, we know that digital health is not a replacement for essential in-person appointments, but greater adoption (and health insurance coverage) of teledentistry and remote monitoring is a key step in expanding access to care and improving long-term health outcomes.
There’s also work to be done in the payer/provider ecosystem. We still treat care of the mouth differently compared to other types of medical care. For example, why is oral healthcare in many countries an add-on package to health insurance, rather than part of the overall coverage? Good dental care is part of good medical care and oral health coverage should be more of a priority on national healthcare agendas and less of an afterthought.
We know that many dentists take blood pressure and other vital readings at regular check-ups, but this data is generally not linked to the systems of general practitioners. With visits twice a year, many people have a closer relationship with their dentist than their doctor – and this makes dental professionals well-positioned to detect systemic health conditions earlier.
Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to forge closer connections between dental professionals and the rest of the healthcare system. What if people could share their dental and health records with healthcare and oral care professionals via the same data ecosystem? A patient could be supported by their doctor and their dentist in the management of their diabetes. And this collaboration would benefit more than just dentist and GPs. By including care providers across the entire health continuum from prevention to healthy living, we could promote better overall patient outcomes as a result.
To bring to life the recommendations from the WHO’s resolution, there’s work to be done to fully integrate oral care into universal health. Digital and technological innovation is a major factor in this, and we at Philips are fully committed to driving this forward to shape the future of healthcare.
 World Health Organization (2021, January) Oral Health EB148.R1
 Effects of periodontal disease on glycemic control, complications, and incidence of diabetes mellitus (2020, May) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/prd.12271
 Periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases: Consensus report (2020, February) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpe.13189
 Periodontal diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes (2018, August)
 Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (2018, November)
 Periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes (2020, May)
 Personal Oral Infection Control, Low Birthweight, and Preterm Births in Appalachia West Virginia: A Cross-Sectional Study (2018, August)