New models are needed

A patient with heart disease who is also food insecure costs $5,144 more per year to care for on average than a patient who is not food insecure.”

An adult with poor oral health spends 17% more on medical and hospital services than a peer with good oral health (Aetna).

Dental hygiene plays a critical role in managing bacterial imbalances in the mouth called oral dysbiosis.

COVID-19 has destabilized the finances of healthcare. In oral healthcare, visits and incomes are down significantly ; moreover, there are few evident arguments for a return to the good old days. Essentially, the dental surgical and hygiene scaling approaches have broken down because of aerosols, uncertainty in the community, and, just perhaps, a general lack of compelling-ness to these services.

The pandemic seems to say that healthcare needs a different context and a different model. Not only does it have to do more with less, it also needs to expand its scope and interconnections — as illustrated by the quotations at the start of this column.

What might this mean for dental hygiene? According to one hygienist on social media, “#nomorebloodyprophies” — that is to say, no more cleaning teeth. Instead, the new hygiene model rests in stabilizing chronic diseases and in turn, saving healthcare resources and improving general health.