Medicine and the mouth, or, why don’t my doctor and dentist know each other?

July 13, 2012 in dental, Member Stories

I had to get an old root canal re-roto-rootered recently.

The endodontist prescribed an antibiotic I’d never heard of before called Clindamycin. I can tell you, it’s pretty rough on the digestive tract. I’m usually oblivious to the side effects of medications, but not this time. From what I understand, endodontists prescribe it in spite of its powerful effect on your digestion, in spite of the risk of coming down with colitis. It was prescribed because it can prevent endocarditis.

Stop the presses. That right there, I think, points to a huge gap in the way we are cared for by our doctors, dentists and insurers.

It’s a no-brainer that the mouth is a key part of the human organism. Everything from air, to water, food, germs and more pass through it and into the body. But my Clindamycin prescription story, and revelations in recent years that periodontal disease also can lead to heart disease and more illustrate starkly a big gap in the health care system.

cartoon by Tyler Pike

Why does my primary care physician not know that I had a root canal retreated and was prescribed a hard antibiotic? Why does my endodontist not know that I take Omeprazole, which, I understand, affects H. Pylori and the rest of my stomach microflora, as does the Clindamycin? Sure, I filled out a questionnaire, but that doesn’t seem like ‘best practices.’

Why does the medical left hand not know what the dental right hand does?

Why doesn’t the brave new, and hopefully efficient world we now live in not make record sharing between our doctors and dentists easy and automatic?

Every website I visit ‘knows’ I recently shopped around for a guitar-themed T-shirt for my son and tries to sell me more of the same. Yet my endodontist and my PCP don’t know a thing about what the other is doing to me and for me. To stretch a metaphor, there’s a ‘my mouth is from Venus, my body is from Mars’ thing going on in modern medicine and it doesn’t seem to me to make any sense.

3 responses to Medicine and the mouth, or, why don’t my doctor and dentist know each other?

  1. Stef – it’s hard to understand why we separate the mouth, or at least parts of it, from the rest of the body, when it comes to medical records, communications and insurance. Thanks for highlighting this issue.

  2. Dental health IS physical health— Thanks for amplifying this pt, Martha. Clever cartoon by Mr. Pike, too. Tks.

  3. Brings up a good question. Will Dentists and oral Surgeons be required to document electronic medical records?

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