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Physician Assistants Show Improved Awareness of the Oral-Systemic Link

Research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) 2018 conference in New Orleans notes that while physician assistants (PAs) are working to improve their knowledge of oral health issues and the oral-systemic link, there is still more work to be done.

Research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) 2018 conference in New Orleans notes that while physician assistants (PAs) are working to improve their knowledge of oral health issues and the oral-systemic link, there is still more work to be done. Conducted by Denise Rizzolo, PhD, PA-C, of the AAPA Special Interest Group PAs for Oral Health, the Physician Assistant Education Association, and investigators from Kean University in Union, New Jersey, the research involved qualitative and quantitative data collected over 6 years to analyze the impact of nondental providers in improving patients’ oral health.

Advocating for PAs to ask oral health questions when taking patient histories, Rizzolo, who is an associate professor at Kean University, emphasizes that “Patients should understand oral health is intricately connected to overall health. In addition, PAs may believe patients receive oral health information from dental providers, when, in fact, they have not seen a dentist in years. It thus becomes imperative that PAs not only examine the entire oral cavity, but also counsel patients about the oral-systemic connection.”

According to researchers, 33% of responding PAs delivered instruction about oral health in 2008, with that number increasing to 78% in 2017. In addition, 32% of PAs report that patients present with oral disorders on a weekly basis.

July 2018

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