Like Medical Home, Dental Home Also Rooted in Pediatrics

Friday, June 13th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

In a post this week on the AOA Daily Report, AOA Executive Director John D. Crosby reports on a continued study of primary care serving as a medical/dental home and its advantages in addressing vulnerable populations in healthcare. I obtained more details on the dental home model from the HRSA’s Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry, which is preparing the report. The following is excerpted from its September 2007 meeting minutes:

The third speaker was James J. Crall, DDS, ScD, Professor and Chair of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Dentistry. He said that dentists deal primarily with the two chronic, multi-factorial diseases: dental caries which appear in primary teeth and periodontal disease. While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) developed a policy statement about dental home in 2001, the concept has been built into dental care for a long time. The AAPD encourages general dentists to be part of the movement. It defines dental home as an ongoing relationship between a dentist and a patient including all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family-centered way, and ideally established by 12 months of age.

Dr. Crall said that the primary care delivery system is establishing better linkages between medical and dental homes. He cited a program in Michigan where the dental community is organized in geographic communities and lists generated of dentists willing to see children in need and other examples of the use of patient navigators and community oral health coordinators. He stressed the importance of identifying high risk children early and modifying their risk factors. Interdisciplinary primary care training should reengineer how people are taught and consequently how they will practice.

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