Council to address oral, medical health link

Jan. 18, 2007
National Advisory Council on Oral and Medical Health to identify research findings, scientific gaps for future research, and increase public awareness of issue.

A newly formed national advisory council, created by Delta Dental of Minnesota, will address the relationship between oral and medical health. Its inaugural meeting will convene in Chicago on Jan. 19.

The National Advisory Council on Oral and Medical Health was formed in late 2006 to help identify and promote research findings into practice, identify scientific gaps for future research and policy, and increase public awareness of the importance of oral health and its connection to overall health.

As the first interdisciplinary advisory council on the topic, the 11-member Council includes representatives from the dental, medical, public policy, and employer communities.

Although research is ongoing, scientific evidence has emerged in recent years linking oral disease to medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and to pre-term or low birth-weight babies. For example, a 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology continued to support findings on the link between the treatment of periodontal disease and improved blood sugar control for patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

As findings continue to emerge, new guidance will be needed about how such information can best be translated into dental and medical practice and what role practitioners should play in patient management. Payers have also become increasingly interested in the oral-medical health connection, as they seek to identify new ways of preventing the onset of costly chronic illnesses.

At the council's meeting, members will review the current state of research in their respective fields, examine ways to more effectively translate scientific evidence into practice, and discuss how to undertake sustained changes in oral-medical practice. A follow-up conference is scheduled for September.

Members of the Council are: Chair Robert Genco, DDS, PhD, State University of New York at Buffalo; Wade M. Aubry, MD, HealthTech; Kim A. Boggess, MD, University of North Carolina School of Medicine; Larry Boress, Midwest Business Group on Health; Jon B. Christianson, PhD, University of Minnesota School of Public Health; Richard E. Dixon, MD, FACP, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chester Douglass, DMD, PhD, Harvard School of Dental Medicine; Katherine Erwin, DDS, MPA, Morehouse School of Medicine; Irene Fraser, PhD, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; David B. Pryor, MD, Ascension Health; and Sheila Riggs, DDS, DMSc, Delta Dental of Minnesota.