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J Dent. 2011 Dec;39 Suppl 2:S34-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2011.10.017. Epub 2011 Nov 12.

Muted dental voices on interprofessional healthcare teams.

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Department of Oral Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of British Columbia, 2199 Westbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T1Z3.


This paper addresses three main themes: (1) oral health and frailty; (2) interprofessional healthcare teams; and (3) dental professionals on healthcare teams. Oral diseases exacerbate frailty, are rampant in most long-term care (LTC) facilities, and typically are not managed effectively by the medical and nursing staff. Interprofessional healthcare has attracted a diverse group of professional personnel from a wide range of backgrounds to exchange skills, but rarely do representatives from the dental professions contribute to this exchange. Barriers to dental personnel on interprofessional teams range from their limited experience on healthcare teams to the ignorance of other team members about the significance of oral health in the management of frailty. Efforts are underway to establish links throughout the personal, organisational, educational, socio-economic and cultural structures of healthcare, and there are optimistic beliefs that dental voices will be strengthened when the concept of interprofessionality is accepted by educators, practitioners, professional organisations, and the public. It is likely also that dental geriatrics will improve considerably when representatives from the dental professions are heard routinely by colleagues from the other healthcare professions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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