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Letters: Image of dentistry

January 21, 2019

I would like to thank Drs. Craig S. Miller, Nelson L. Rhodus, and John C. Robinson for their My View "Does Dentistry Have a Role in Health Care?" in the Nov. 19 issue of the ADA News.

It fascinates me that anyone would think that dentistry isn't part of health care in the first place.

I agree that dentists do work with patients when they have been diagnosed with head and neck cancers, but they also should be — and are — at the forefront of helping prevent and diagnose these diseases.

Every patient should be checked for oral cancer, with special attention given to those using tobacco products.

It is the obligation of all dental health care professionals to discuss with their tobacco and nicotine addicted patients the role of tobacco products on oral and systemic health and guide them to those who can provide tobacco cessation therapy.

Oral cancer can be prevented and, if detected early enough, cured.

Many patients are seen in dental offices more frequently than by their physicians, which allows dentists and their staffs the ability to serve as an integral part of the patient's overall health care in addition to oral care.

I have always enjoyed working with my medical colleagues and always shared a mutual respect for what each of us could contribute to our patients' health.

Dental schools across the country have been integrating the teaching of oral and systemic diseases in their curricula for years.

We should all embrace the new roles of the dental professional as it continues to evolve over the years.

I heartily agree with the authors' statement that "the image of dentistry needs to evolve and grow" as well.

Nevin Zablotsky, D.M.D.
South Hero, Vermont