The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a renewed focus on how the general public can all stay as healthy as possible. To reduce the spread of this deadly virus, people wear masks to cover their nose and mouth, knowing that this is a primary portal where the virus and bacteria are spread. However, far too many other serious and life-threatening diseases, such as those that affect the mouth, are often overlooked.
According to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website, more than 51,500 people are diagnosed with cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils, and tongue each year. With many dentist visits delayed this past year due to COVID-19, dentists need to stress the importance of oral care to their patients and network in an effort to combat the inevitable increase in cancer diagnoses.
Given this recent trend, it’s more important now than ever before that the dental community does its part to reverse this downward spiral. Here are a few ways that dentists can play a better role in oral-systemic healthcare integration.
Suggest an At-Home Exam
Since many of your patients have probably postponed their appointments, a great first step in reintroducing them to the realm of oral health is to encourage them to take a look into their own mouth. Anything they see that seems irregular should be noted and brought to their dentist’s attention right away.
Telehealth programs like ProHEALTH Dental’s Teledentistry platform enable patients to access expert dental providers using convenient video technology via laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This provides patients with the convenience of asking questions or voicing concerns from their own home.
Reconnect with Your Patients and Network
Consider putting together a strategy where your team is proactively reaching out to previous clients and potential new ones. This can be done by sending mailers, e-newsletters, or emails or giving them a call directly to check in.
Share Educational Resources on COVID-19 Safety
Dentists everywhere are adhering to the latest CDC guidelines to ensure a safe experience for all patients coming in for an appointment. Make sure your network is aware of these changes and how seriously your team takes them. Consider incorporating a section on your website solely for informing the public about your safety precautions. You can also share insight and resources in your outreach to patients.
If dentists can improve their direct engagement with their patients and share this information, then the downward trend we’re seeing in visits could hopefully shift back to normal. It’s essential that this trend is addressed so people everywhere aren’t finding themselves facing more long-term diseases such as oral cancer and more.
Dr. Valauri is a board-certified prosthodontist at ProHEALTH Dental, which enters into clinical affiliations with leading medical groups to integrate dental and medical services. Its mission is to educate the public about the vital importance of good oral health as key to improving overall health and well-being. For more information about ProHEALTH Dental, visit phdental.com.