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Mary Otto, on the Dentistry-Medicine Divide

From The Atlantic:

Doctors are doctors, and dentists are dentists, and never the twain shall meet. Whether you have health insurance is one thing, whether you have dental insurance is another. Your doctor doesn’t ask you if you’re flossing, and your dentist doesn’t ask you if you’re exercising. In America, we treat the mouth separately from the rest of the body, a bizarre situation

Source: Mary Otto, Author of ‘Teeth,’ on the Dentistry-Medicine Divide – The Atlantic

Worth reading and remembering this is the kind of stuff our patients read in the popular press.

I found the historical tidbits about the medical dental divide interesting. It seems at first the physicians rejected us dentists then we seemed to like our independence and rejected attempts to bring us into the medical tent. From a purely scientific point of view oral / dental health is clearly a subsection of overall health and clearly should be a subspecialty of medicine. But of course it is not and is unlikely to become one any time soon.

The article does not present either dentists or physicians in a particularly flattering light. Most aggravating from my point of view is the assumption that insurance equals care. This is so common in the pres and from politicians. Dental care is a personal medical service, insurance is a financial service. Having insurance is not the same as having care and not having insurance does not mean you can not have care.

There is an underlying assumption that if dentistry was just part of medicine and was covered by medical insurance everyone would be happier and get better coverage. I believe just the opposite. The happy accident that has made dentistry separate from medicine has saved us from the worst excesses of the medical insurance, ACA debacle.

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