, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 279-291

Dentists as Oral Physicians: The Overlooked Primary Health Care Resource

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Abstract

The United States is currently experiencing a primary care shortage. One solution to improving health care is to increase the utilization of existing health care providers, particularly dentists, an opportunity that has been largely ignored. By employing mid-level providers for less complex procedures to deliver more accessible dental care at lower cost, dentists can redistribute tasks to their office workforce. They can then serve as oral physicians who can provide limited preventive primary care, including screening for chronic diseases, while continuing to oversee all dental care, whether provided by dentists or non-dentists. Thus, they could improve the health of the US population as well as increase access to dental care at lower cost, while partially alleviating the primary care shortage by filling a need for the screening aspects of primary care.