My Prediction: Future Dentists Will Be Rich, Important, and Well-Loved

Editorial
by Jim Du Molin

Can you see the future? I can!

I see patients driving electric cars to their quarterly check-ups at “Health & Wellness Maintenance Centers.” In each of these health centers, I see not just a doctor, but a highly-trained support staff with the latest technology – digital patient records, automated analysis of test results, and machines that will check for all sorts of disease. I see painless swabs and quick scans that will diagnose ailments from cancer to bone loss. I see patients who don’t mind seeing the doctor. And – most importantly – I see you, the dentist, as this doctor of the future!

Today’s news features almost daily stories of technology that will allow dentists to quickly test for (and sometimes even treat) a wide variety of diseases and conditions throughout the body. It’s clear to me that this research is paving the way for dentists to become total-body health practitioners.

What will that mean for dentistry? A new role in the world! Certainly, a new role in the patient’s life: quarterly dental visits become a standard method of checking on one’s health. As a result, patient anxiety about dentistry goes way down. Dentists and their teams will provide patients with regular check-ups, general health information, and referrals to other medical professionals as needed. As dental practices become more and more important to general health care, dentists will face greater responsibilities, a more high-profile role in their patients’ lives – oh, and probably a higher income too! Just imagine how the economics of health care will shift.

It all starts with the research. Though this list is by no means exhaustive, here are just a few of the ways that dentists of the future will be involved in their patients’ total health. Keep your eyes open for even more new tests you may soon be able to offer your patients!

Cancer: Scientists at UCLA have announced that they’ve found a way to test for oral cancer using proteins found in saliva, and they hope the technology will become widely available in the next few years. In addition, the Academy of General Dentistry has found that saliva may be able to be used in early-stage breast cancer detection – something that could save the lives of countless American women.

Smoking: Tobacco is a major oral health issue, but it’s one that many dentists avoid. Many tell patients to quit, give them a business card or 800 number, and wash their hands of the whole thing. Well, the University of Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine is trying another strategy. Results from the school’s non-judgmental tobacco counseling program are promising: of the patients who accepted and received the counseling, 51% immediately decided to quit smoking, and 32% remained smoke-free six months later. Said the dentist who developed the eight-hour training program, “One woman from Pennsylvania called a couple weeks after her appointment to thank us for making her quit.”

Osteoporosis: European researchers announced recently that dental x-rays can successfully be used to diagnose a patient’s risk of osteoporosis. Analysis of the mandible in dental x-rays proved to be just as effective as the “golden standard” of traditional bone mass density (measurements taken at the hip, wrist and spine). Since most patients receive regular dental x-rays, this method of bone loss detection doesn’t require additional time or radiation exposure, and would also allow for long-term measurements taken by a single health practitioner. What’s more, it couldn’t be easier for dentists – an automated computer program does all the work of analyzing the x-rays.

Immune System: In a recent article for The Wealthy Dentist, RDH Valerie Williams examined the connections between periodontal disease and systemic immune support. In a double-blind study, patients received either a placebo or a nutritional supplement for periodontal health. Those taking the periodontal supplement had reduced levels of gingival inflammation, bleeding and pocket depth. In addition, these patients also had an increase in antioxidant levels. Dentists have long known that periodontal disease can raise patients’ risk for other diseases or conditions – conversely, it now appears that improving a patient’s oral and periodontal health can improve the functioning of their entire immune system.

All of these developments – and all the similar advances in dental health technology not mentioned here – point towards a new future for dentists: that of total health practitioner. This change won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without work on the part of dentists across the country and the globe, but it will happen. As the technology grows, dentists will become a more important part of the patient’s total holistic health – and a force to be reckoned with in the healthcare industry.

What do you think of the changing role of dentistry? As a dentist or hygienist, would you rather be seen as a tooth specialist or as a whole-body medical professional? Share your thoughts by posting your comments below.

Jim Du Molin


About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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