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Individualized Dental Care Should Be the Norm!

Individualized oral health care – Individualized dental care. 

The way it should be!

Our office believes in individualized dental care for optimal health. 

Dental care should be individualized to the patient.  What works for you is not necessarily what works for other patients.  Every patient deserved individualized oral health care. 

Take something as simple as the notion that every person needs to brush twice daily and floss once per day.  While this may be nice in terms of warding off bad breath, it does not really apply to all people when they want their teeth and gums to be as healthy as possible.   I see patients who really do brush and floss based on these guidelines and they still have issues with gum disease, tooth decay,  and periodontal disease!  So, there is more to this story.  Achieving oral health should be the goal of our oral hygiene procedures.  Well health and nice breath!

Treating people as individuals is not a new concept but it is one that I don’t think gets applied often enough.  This is, of course, true in medicine as well as dentistry.  Two patients with the same presenting symptoms and tests cannot necessarily be treated equally and achieve the same results.

Probably not the best way to have individualized oral health care!

 

My son in law, Jeremiah Joyce, wrote this piece recently published in the Mayo Clinic’s KER blog. It looks at the risks and benefits of adopting guideline-driven care.

This from Jeremiah, “Minimally disruptive medicine (MDM) is one of the aims of the KER unit (http://www.mayo.edu/research/labs/knowledge-evaluation-research-unit/overview) here at Mayo and they are doing some cool personalized medicine research dealing with not just disease but what individual patients themselves bring to the table.”

 

Is Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) the way to best treat patients?  Does this apply to dental patients?  I think it does!

Jeremiah is a third-year student at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.  Mr. Joyce responded to a writing prompt meant to develop his thoughts about the role of a primary care physician. The prompt: “The ideas behind MDM or contextualized care ask us to respect the needs and circumstances of the patient before us as we construct our care plans. But that puts us in a weird spot, yes? Because just as MDM is this decade’s push, last decade’s push was evidence-based medicine: the idea that, through science, we can find a ‘best’ way to handle a problem, a ‘best’ treatment. It becomes our job to apply the evidence with less and less spin to it, if we dedicate ourselves to EBM purity.” 

With that in mind, what is your opinion of the Minnesota Community Measures’ “D5” criteria (http://mncm.org/reports-and-websites/the-d5/)? What are the risks and benefits of adopting guideline-driven care? Do the D5 measures reflect a friendly contextualization of care?” 

Mr. Joyce’s response follows:

The Mayo motto “the needs of the patient come first” uses the singular noun; the patient is an individual. In practicing evidence based medicine, however, I think we often make the mistake of using population-based recommendations for individuals. There is an interesting precedent for the idea that a “one size fits all” model fits no one perfectly. In his book The End of Average, Todd Rose describes a U.S. Air Force study of pilot average body measurements, designed to tailor a cockpit that fit the average pilot. Out of over 4,000 pilots measured to determine the perfect dimensions, not a single one was within the average range in all of the 10 primary dimensions (Rose, 2016). This article is a fascinating physical example of a truth that undoubtedly applies to medical recommendations as well. 

In practicing medicine, we should focus on tailoring the recommendations to fit the patient, rather than forcing the patient to fit the recommendation. We are all aware of the benefits of D5 recommendations on the long-term health of populations, but we also know some patients have ASA-induced asthma and others have statin-induced myositis. Still others haven’t been able to quit smoking despite their best intentions. We as future providers risk losing a therapeutic alliance with patients if we push too far or too hard. Someone with a recent diagnosis of diabetes may quickly be overwhelmed if we add on all the D5 as soon as their A1c is at 7.1%. As Rose describes in his book, the Air Force’s solution to their cockpit dilemma was increasing flexibility in the design, allowing pilots to adjust their planes. This approach resulted in a dramatic decrease in casualties. We may see the same effect when we work with patients to achieve the greatest benefit to their health. Across a panel of patients, we would be much more satisfied with a population of half-treated and gradually improving diabetics than we would be with losing many patients to follow-up due to frustration and disappointment with a rigid healthcare system.

(Rose, 2016) “When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages.” https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/01/16/when-us-air-force-discovered-the-flaw-of-averages.htmlhttps://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/01/16/when-us-air-force-discovered-the-flaw-of-averages.html 

Jess, Jeremiah and Tigris

I love the part in the title above that states, ‘the flaw of averages’!  This ties right in to the need for individualized dental care.

So what do dentists need to address if we want our patients to have optimal oral health?  In my practice, we do a complete oral health assessment for every patient and tailor our recommendations based on our findings.  If someone shows no signs of gingivitis, trauma, or periodontal disease then their current regimen of oral hygiene is adequate from an oral health standpoint.  If we see signs of disease then we determine what changes can be made to improve their oral health.  Then we continue to monitor for signs and symptoms of disease to see if modifications need to be made.

I know that I want to be treated as in individual and I believe our patients do too.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS

Caring For and Enhancing Your Smile