With an increased emphasis on considering optimal oral health in the context of overall health and well-being, there is interest in understanding how practicing dentists are using information about their patients’ overall health status.
A survey tool was developed to understand how dentists assess the health status of their patients, the frequency at which they are gathering this information, and how they work with their medical colleagues. Emails with an electronic survey link were sent to 997 American Dental Association Clinical Evaluators (ACE) panel members on November 23, 2021. The survey closed after 2 weeks, and data were analyzed descriptively.
A total of 258 (26%) ACE panel members responded to the survey. At initial visits, the dentist (60%) often discusses and reviews the patient’s medical history, but in subsequent appointments, this task is often completed by the dental assistant (34%) or dental hygienist (32%). At every dental visit, 75%, 66%, and 33% of the respondents ask about and record changes to medical history, medication list, and visits with other health care professionals, respectively. Of the respondents, 85% collect at least 1 vital sign, and more than 90% use the medical history, medication list, and patient interview. A total of 32% of respondents reported disease monitoring is in their scope of practice, and, among them, cardiovascular conditions are the most frequent health condition seen. On average, 12% of patients are referred to another health care provider weekly.
Most dentists use the patient’s medical history and medication list and collect vital signs, but the frequency and application of these assessments vary.
Optimal oral health is integral to overall health, and identifying opportunities to improve communication and data sharing among all health care professionals can affect the patient’s health positively.