In recognition of this past World Oral Health Day (22 March), the International Dental Journal and FDI World Federation have selected just a few papers from the journal for this free, open-access virtual issue that address the integration of the medical and dental professions.
These papers cover a wide range of topics from screening for dental diseases in non-dental clinical settings, to collaborative oral healthcare, to the association between oral diseases and systemic diseases (including respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and diabetes mellitus), and the inclusion of dental benefits in universal health coverage. This range of subjects provides a brief overview of the many ways that integration is being studied.
There are several exciting developments poised to impact the future of the dental profession. Among the most intriguing, yet challenging, is the integration of dentistry and medicine. Dentistry is a recognised and respected health profession, but due to separate educational systems, clinical settings, and reimbursement models, it has generally been independent of medicine.
However, in the past few decades the confluence of demographic trends and important scientific advances has resulted in a re-examination of this separation, with calls for a closer collaboration between the professions.
This is being driven by the ageing of the population in many developed countries, the lifelong retention of teeth because of the emphasis on preventive dentistry, and a robust database suggesting that oral infection and inflammation are risk factors for many chronic diseases.