Mays stresses need for collaboration in Perspectives

Journal of Dental Education

Interim Dean Keith Mays, DDS, stressed the importance of a collaborative, comprehensive approach to oral and overall health in a recent Perspectives piece.

The article appeared in the January issue of the Journal of Dental Education, the American Dental Education Association’s peer-reviewed, monthly publication.

Dean Mays wrote the piece to call attention to the role of oral health practitioners, like those educated at the School of Dentistry, in promoting overall health and in preventative care.

Mays began the piece sharing two events in the early 2000s that set the tone for a greater focus on oral health overall: a 2000 Surgeon General report on oral health and the death of a 12-year-old in 2007 due to brain infection stemming from an abscessed tooth.

While these two moments elevated the nation’s awareness of oral health, Mays asserted that they remind us that “not only should all healthcare providers contribute to enhancing oral health, but that oral health providers should contribute to enhancing overall health.”

He shared the reasons oral health care practitioners are the ideal front-line to screen for various overall health conditions with early oral indicators, explaining that “greater than 40% of the general population sees an oral health professional annually.” Screenings for inflammation common in periodontal disease could identify Rheumatoid Arthritis, among other diseases, before a person sees enough symptoms to make a doctor’s appointment.

Mays encouraged professionals to focus on “patient-centered care” and embrace interprofessional education, stating that, “to truly establish collaborative practice, there is a need for transformation in the health system.”

He encouraged educators to begin that transformation within their own programs, redesigning curricula to include the Interprofessional Education Collaborative’s Four Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and engage students with a patient-focused, team-based model of care.

When health care practitioners are working together to create a seamless care experience for their patients, Mays argued, we fulfill oral health professionals’ “opportunity to improve oral health and overall health.”

Read the full article in the Journal of Dental Education.