Although more Americans than ever now have access to and can afford health care, many people still avoid regularly seeing a physician. In fact nearly one quarter of the U.S. population does not have a primary care physician. We as dentists see it everyday, someone comes in with tooth pain and when you look at the medical history form they filled out, no physician is listed. In many instances a dentist, often under "emergency" or "tooth pain" circumstances, is the only doctor many people ever see. Although we do not completely understand why so many people avoid regular visits to a doctor, theories include not wanting to be lectured about one's own bad habits, and the fear of learning one has a terrible and/or incurable disease.
With the recent studies clearly indicating the strong correlation between poor oral health and serious systemic disease, is crucial for dentists and their teams to fill in the void for those who do not see physicians. Dentists are not just tooth doctors, good dental offices are health care facilities whose goal is complete wellness of the entire body. Dental teams truly are on the front lines of healthcare, they have an opportunity to spot the warning signs of serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Please check out the link below to an article from the March edition of The Atlantic. It is a very nice piece of writing explaining and illustrating my points above.