Beyond the Tonsils: Dentists and Dental Hygienists as Non-Physician Primary Care Providers:

As the US population continues to expand, there will be a greater number of people who live with chronic diseases. With the shortage of primary healthcare providers (e.g., physicians and nurses), detection and management of these diseases poses a challenge for our current healthcare delivery system. The concept of Non-Physician Primary Care Providers* provides an alternative approach to meeting the needs of these at-risk populations. By practicing top-of-your-license, oral healthcare providers (OHCPs) are uniquely positioned to provide many primary care services including using questionnaires, visual examination, manual measurements and salivary diagnostics to screen patients for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor glycemic control, HPV, HIV, hypertension, dermatological lesions, various cancers, and biometric health, among other things.

This course explores primary care practices such as medical screening and tools for salivary diagnostics that can be implemented by OHCPs in the dental setting that have the potential to improve early detection and preventive interventions of many chronic diseases and conditions. The challenges to implementing these primary care services into the traditional practices of dentists and dental hygienists will also be discussed. The course concludes by inviting participants to take part in a poll that will seek to determine OHCPs' attitudes about implementing primary care services, their feeling of competency to perform these procedures, and the education and training necessary to be successful in this new practice paradigm.

Indeed, we are entering a new era in healthcare when medical-dental integration is evolving. The expectation is that OHCPs will become more involved in the early diagnosis, risk assessment and management of various medical conditions. Failure to embrace this change would forfeit one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had to define ourselves within the healing arts.

After completing this course, participants will be able to:
• Screen patients for undetected, or poorly managed chronic diseases and infectious diseases.
• Implement life style modification counselling to at risk patients.
• Overcome the challenges in implementing primary care services in dentistry.
• Identify attitudes about implementing this new practice paradigm and areas where more education and training is necessary to be successful in providing primary care services in the dental setting.

* The American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP) defines Non-Physician Primary Care Providers as "providers of health care other than physicians who render some primary care services. Such providers may include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and some other health care providers." AAFP website. Available at:; accessed May 1, 2018.

  • CE Credit: 4
  • Audience:
  • Supported by:Florida Probe Corporation
  • Supported by:Colgate Oral Health Network
  • Supported by:SunStar Americas Inc
Casey Hein

Casey Hein, BSDH, RDH, MBA

Casey Hein first began speaking about periodontal-systemic links in 2003, when this body of science was emerging. Since that time, evidence of the roleof periodontal disease in amplifying systemic inflammation and increasing the risk for chronic diseases has strengthened. Yet, clinicians are not quite certain how to integrate this information into everyday patient care. Casey’s programs present new models of care and collaboration that practitioners can implement immediately. They are the result of many years of clinical consulting, research, participation on scientific boards and in consensus groups, and her experience in building an environment for medical dental collaboration at the University of Manitoba. Utilizing sophisticated animations, case studies and storytelling of professional experiences, her programs facilitate greater understanding of periodontal systemic links, stimulate ideas, fuel lively discussions and empower participants. Casey is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Periodontics and Director of Education of the International Centre for Oral-Systemic Health in the College of Dentistry; and the Director of Continuing Professional Development for Dentistry and Dental Hygiene, in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Manitoba (Canada). She is also an internationally recognized speaker and published author, a consultant to the dental industry, advisory/scientific boards, professional associations, and a reviewer for scientific publications. She has developed two educational websites that provide resources for implementation of periodontal-systemic science ( and online courses related to oral-systemic health for both the dental and medical communities (

Conflict of Interest Disclosure: member of advisory board for Sunstar