Primary Care, the Dental Profession, and the Prevalence of Chronic Diseases in the United States

The population of the United States is aging rapidly, and the prevalence of chronic diseases will increase as the population grows and ages. The management of chronic illnesses will become an increasing burden for primary care providers. This article suggests that dentists may need to monitor chronic disease and control the risk factors (ie, provide primary care) for their own dental patients.

  • Chronic diseases are the major causes of death among adults in the United States.

  • Chronic disease prevalence increases with age.

  • The United States population is aging rapidly.

  • The prevalence of chronic diseases will increase as the population grows and ages.

  • The management of chronic illnesses will become an increasing burden for primary care providers.

  • Dentists may need to monitor chronic disease and control the risk factors (ie, provide primary care) for their own dental patients.

Key Points

Primary care

Primary care is the principal point of consultation for patients within a health care system, usually an MD who is a general practitioner or family physician. Increasingly, however, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or pharmacists are serving as primary care providers. Patients are then referred for secondary specialty care or tertiary subspecialty care. The role of the primary care provider is to monitor patients’ health, and assess and control risk factors for acute and chronic disease.

Because the majority of the United States population has seen a dentist in the past 24 months, and as dentists must increasingly monitor the chronic disease problems of their dental patients, there is a proposal that dentists could and should serve as the primary care provider for their dental patients. This article documents the epidemiology of chronic disease in the United States and sets the stage for a discussion of the role that dentists can serve as primary care providers, at least for their own dental patients.

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Oct 29, 2016 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on Primary Care, the Dental Profession, and the Prevalence of Chronic Diseases in the United States
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