A November 30, 2016 article from the AAOSH, which was bouncing around the internet yesterday should have turned some heads, but only a few noticed with all of the post-holiday distractions in their life.
To me, a more obvious failure of our profession to influence our medical culture’s (and therefore our society’s health) perspective of dentistry as a critical health care profession can not be found.
In the study, “Almost 90% of people in long-term care facilities refuse dental care – even when it is free.”
Simply put another way, these people (and their support network) value their time more than dentistry, and these people likely feel that there is more to be lost by engaging dentistry than to be gained.
If tattoos had been offered for free, would the participation rate have been higher?
I may be leaning on this opportunity a bit too hard, but I believe a more clear message can not be found – that Americans as a whole do not value dental health very highly even after 60 plus years of our so-called “prevention” and “recall”.
Why? We are the most prosperous country on the planet, and the oral systemic connections have been suspected since well before the time of Bob Barkley (Bob openly speculated that one day a direct connection would be discovered between periodontal disease and heart disease in 1972).
Avrom King, being a “Futurist”, speculated that a health-centered revolution would emerge in dentistry in the 1990’s. He called it Tier III, bet the ranch on it – and lost.
Some feel that the emergence of dental insurance as a dominant market force changed the direction of dentistry for the worse. Bob Barkley saw that coming as well, as he felt that if insurance companies failed to support prevention with the same enthusiasm as they did repair, repairs would become the focus – not health.
And they have.
Organizations like AAOSH are making some headway in advancing a more health-centered mission for dentistry- albeit on a small scale. Countering these efforts however is a massive flood of federal dollars to help children through the Affordable Care Act and other means – via a reductionistic repair-oriented philosophy – the one we see fully entrenched in the minds of our elderly population who have spent their entire life in contact and around the dental profession.
Only a truly relationship-based/health-centered practice philosophy can turn this tide.
Who is up for this Mission?
Paul A Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017
Read more at www.codiscovery.com