Dentists leading the charge
By Andrew Smith, Executive Director, ADSO
A deeper appreciation for the mouth-body connection will be the defining trend for our industry in 2022. Simply put, the mouth-body connection is the idea that what happens in the mouth affects a person’s overall well-being. Like eating healthy and taking care of one’s mental health, people also need to maintain proper oral health. For years, the dental industry has understood that dentistry is integral to health care, as opposed to a separate function.
Now, due to the diligence and commitment of dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing a larger recognition of the mouth-body connection throughout the greater health care landscape. One example of health and dental integration is the visibility of oral care, as the industry has embraced teledentistry and the ability for dentists to administer vaccinations.
Dentistry – like other industries – has experienced immense changes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early days, dental offices were shuttered while oral health care temporarily paused – people were delaying dental appointments and paying less attention to their dental hygiene.
Yet, despite the challenges over the past year and a half, dentists have shown up for their communities, driving recognition of oral health and the importance of access to care. With the emergence of COVID-19 vaccines, there was a lack of health professionals who were able to administer shots. Dental hygienists stepped up – 20 states thus far have authorized them to administer the shots. By elevating dentistry and improving access to care for urban and rural communities, the industry demonstrated the significance of oral health and its ties to overall wellness, an ongoing trend for the dental profession.
Speaking of the future, the ADSO had a phenomenal time at Leading the Evolution of Dentistry. It was a delight to meet with ADSO members and discuss the ADSO’s 3-year strategic plan that emphasizes the mouth-body connection, promotes access to care and elevates dentistry.
Looking ahead, the ADSO looks forward to continuing to advocate for and advance policies that allow a dentist to prioritize patient care. We have spent a significant amount of time working with the ADA on multiple policy issues that are important to the oral health care community. On the federal level, we continue to engage with key policymakers on Capitol Hill, the White House and agencies to promote access to care and continue to elevate dentistry as essential health care.
As we rapidly approach 2022, we’re watching how technology shapes the industry, the impact of growing the DSO employment pipeline, and the implications of health care and dental insurance integration. Until then, the ADSO is charting a path forward for the dental industry.