STAT

It’s time to break down the wall between dentistry and medicine

Dentistry and medicine have long been been taught as — and viewed as — two separate professions. That artificial division is bad for the public's health.
Remote Area Medical volunteer dentists perform dental work during a free clinic for uninsured and underinsured people in Oakland, Calif.

Ever since the first dental school was founded in the United States in 1840, dentistry and medicine have been taught as — and viewed as — two separate professions. That artificial division is bad for the public’s health. It’s time to bring the mouth back into the body.

In 1840, dentistry focused on extracting decayed teeth and plugging cavities. Today, dentists use sophisticated methods for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. We implant teeth, pinpoint oral cancers, use 3-D imaging to reshape a jaw, and can treat some dental decay medically, without a drill. We’ve also discovered much more about the intimate connection between oral health and overall health. , also known as gum disease, has been linked to the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women with periodontitis are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia,

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