Medical Educators are Working to Put the Mouth Back in Medicine

dental-care oral-health systemic-health

Untreated oral health issues can wreak havoc on health and well-being, yet medical schools have historically taught little about them. Now, some leaders are determined to change that.

Oral health problems can cause horrible pain and great expense. What’s more, research suggests there are connections between an unhealthy mouth and a range of systemic health issues, including stroke, heart disease, preterm labor, and the progression of diabetes.

Yet many medical school students have not learned much about identifying dental problems or oral manifestations of systemic disease—or the importance of counseling patients to care for their teeth. In 2009, for example, nearly 70% of responding medical schools offered fewer than five hours of oral health education, according to a study published in Academic Medicine.