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 Table of Contents  
EDITORIAL
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 19-20

Role of family physicians in maintaining oral health and wellness


National President, Academy of Family Physicians of India; Director, Institute of Family Medicine and Primary Care

Date of Submission26-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance26-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication12-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Raman Kumar
049, Crema Tower, Mahagun Mascot, Crossing Republik, Ghaziabad - 202 016, Uttar Pradesh, India.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpcdoh.jpcdoh_31_21

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  Abstract 


The family physician's role is to provide whole-body care across all age groups irrespective of the organ system. They provide preventive, promotive, and curative care to families and communities. Due to the traditional fragmentation of the health-care education system, mouth and oral health do not fall into one discipline. Family physicians are positioned uniquely within the health system where they can play a very important role in the provision of oral health care. Family physicians by virtue of their experience and training are capable of screening and providing care a multisystemic approach. They have a continuity of care relationship with the patients and families. And families visit their family doctors multiple times for multiple health problems. During contact with family, physicians have the opportunity to peep into the window of the body – the oral cavity.

Keywords: Dental health, diseases of mouth, family physician, oral cancers, oral health, role of family medicine


How to cite this article:
Kumar R. Role of family physicians in maintaining oral health and wellness. J Prim Care Dent Oral Health 2021;2:19-20

How to cite this URL:
Kumar R. Role of family physicians in maintaining oral health and wellness. J Prim Care Dent Oral Health [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 24];2:19-20. Available from: http://www.jpcdoh.org/text.asp?2021/2/2/19/321113




  The Mouth is the Window of Health Top


The mouth is considered to be a window of health. Dental and oral health problems may start during childhood and continue till old health. Fortunately, much of the dental and oral health problems are preventable, however unfortunately awareness for preventive practices is very low. There is a huge spectrum of clinical issues originating from the mouth such as bad breath to oral cancers. The cost of treatment is high and life without treatment is often disabling.


  Function of Mouth Top


The mouth is the primary conduit of food and water. The digestion process starts with saliva mixing with food and breaking food substances into smaller swallowable pieces with the help of teeth, jaws, tongue, and buccal cavity. The mouth or oral cavity consists of lips, gums, teeth, hard palate, soft palate, uvula, the floor of the mouth, buccal mucosa, tonsils, and tongue. Therefore, oral cavity plays an important role in maintaining the nutritional status of the body from the pediatric to geriatric age group. The mouth has also an active role in sexual health for participation in primary and secondary sexual activities. Healthy teeth and lips are important for cosmetics, appearance, and self-esteem. There are primary clinical problems associated with the oral cavity and systemic issues arising from other medical conditions arising from other parts of the body. Therefore, mouth becomes a complex organ from a care provider's perspective as not all specialists can be consulted in one sitting. It leads to a situation where oral health issues are neglected by the patients, families, and members of the community. Few of the cultural practices like the consumption of paan, khaini (tobacco), supari, and gutka are unique to the South Asia population. Each has been associated with poor oral health outcomes.


  Family Physician's Unique Role Top


The family physician's role is to provide whole-body care across all age groups irrespective of the organ system. They provide preventive, promotive, and curative care to families and communities. Due to the traditional fragmentation of the health-care education system, mouth and oral health do not fall into one discipline. From a specialty perspective, it has to be multidisciplinary. There are medical specialties that cover oral health and then there are dental specialties and subspecialties. Care is often transactional with acute problems. The preventive part is limited to brushing and cleaning, with a large variation in perceptions and practices prevailing within the community. Family physicians are positioned uniquely within the health system where they can play a very important role in the provision of oral health care. Family physicians by virtue of their experience and training are capable of screening and providing care a multisystemic approach. They have a continuity of care relationship with the patients and families. And families visit their family doctors multiple times for multiple health problems. During contact with family, physicians have the opportunity to peep into the window of the body – the oral cavity.


  Family Physician's Role in Oral Care through the Life Cycle Top


For newborns, family physicians can identify birth defects of the mouth such as cleft lips and cleft palate. They can counsel about the potential course correction and provide to the mothers counseling on feeding and other preventive safety measures. During infancy, family physicians can advise and screen for normal growth and development by looking at the status of dentition. Inculcating dental and oral cleanliness during childhood and through school health programs can lay the foundation for good health for the future. Food habits, lack of cleanliness, and insufficiency of parental supervision can lead to dental caries. Adolescent age is time for self-care and resolving cosmetic problems arising from the oral cavity. Smoking often starts in adolescence and early adulthood. Kissing and oral sex have implications for sexually transmitted diseases. Diseases such as diabetes may predispose individuals toward infections and early dental loss. There are several infective diseases that impact oral health; these include fungal, viral, and bacterial diseases. There are chronic inflammatory diseases of the mouth. Preventive screening of oral cancers should be an important responsibility of the family physicians. Poor oral health and dental loss lead to poor nutrition and health outcomes among the elderly population. It is important to emphasize the need for correct dentures for the elderly so that good health and well-being can be maintained. Elderly people have limited resources and are often dependent on their families for care. Therefore, counseling by family physicians toward the need for proper dental rehabilitation is required. Smoking cessation and substance dependence can also be handled by family physicians. Mental health conditions lead to poor self-care and oral health. It is the role of family doctors to educate care providers within the family to augment oral.


  Need of Continuing Medical Education and Training in Oral Health Top


Family physicians should keep themselves updated with the recent guidelines of screening, prevention, and treatment of oral health issues. Each general examination in a family medicine consultation must contain an examination of the oral cavity. Oral health is not just a referral work but also a mandatory clinical responsibility. Organizing the right care and referral should be done by the family physicians. More academic resources and training programs from primary care perspective should be developed.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.






 

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