Should dental schools train dentists to routinely provide limited preventive primary medical care? Two viewpoints

Donald B. Giddon, R. Bruce Donoff, Paul C. Edwards, Lawrence I. Goldblatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This Point/Counterpoint acknowledges the transformation of dental practice from a predominantly technically based profession with primary emphasis on restoration of the tooth and its supporting structures to that of a more medically based specialty focusing on the oral and maxillofacial complex. While both viewpoints accept the importance of this transformation, they differ on the ultimate desired outcome and how changes should be implemented during training of dentists as oral health professionals. Viewpoint 1 argues that, in response to a shortage of both primary care providers and access to affordable oral health care, dentists need to be able and willing to provide limited preventive primary care (LPPC), and dental educators should develop and implement training models to prepare them. Among changes proposed are consideration of three types of practitioners: oral physicians with sufficient training to provide LPPC; dentists with excellent technical proficiency but minimal medical and surgical training; and mid-level providers to provide simple restorative and uncomplicated surgical care. Viewpoint 2 argues that the objective of dentists' education in primary care medicine is to help them safely and effectively provide all aspects of oral health care, including appropriate preventive medical care, that already fall within their scope of knowledge and practice. Dental educators should encourage students to use this knowledge to take full ownership of non-tooth-related pathologic conditions of the oral and maxillofacial complex not currently managed in the dental setting, but encouraging graduates to expand into nondental LPPC outside the recognized scope of practice will only further exacerbate fragmentation of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-570
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Access to health care
  • Curriculum
  • Dental education
  • Dentistry
  • Health care systems
  • Interprofessional education
  • Interprofessional relations
  • Preventive primary care
  • Primary care
  • Scope of practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)

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