Chronic disease management and care coordination: Expanding the dental provider’s role

This research was originally published in 2021 by Alicia Webb, MSHI, BTDH, RDH and Shannon Sommers, MSHI, BTDH, RDH.

We have curated this article as a reference point for The Larkin Protocol.



As of 2018, approximately one-half of adult patients in the United States have at least one of 10 common chronic diseases.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that more patients have multiple chronic conditions and require infection-related treatment, while at the same time fewer patients are seeking preventive care.2 Subsequently, it is estimated there will be a shortage of up to 35,600 primary care providers by 2025.1

Considering that dental practitioners are formally educated in the biomedical sciences, and that approximately 9% of patients visit a dentist but not a physician,1 dental providers are well positioned to examine the role that chronic diseases play in oral health outcomes and could be the answer to addressing these issues.3 Currently, the responsibilities of a dental hygienist include a wide array of preventive and treatment protocols; however, with career developments and the evolution of dentistry, we need to pose these questions: Could dental hygienists broaden their role in dentistry? How can we expand our responsibilities to be the direct liaison in chronic disease management?


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