Delta Dental NJ's Keith Libou Shares Changes in Dental Care
Dr. Keith Libou, Chief Clinical Officer at Delta Dental of New Jersey, explains how dental care is evolving from simple oral care to overall healthcare of the whole body. Dentists can help screen for diseases, like diabetes, when a primary physician is not available. Libou also talks about mobile dentistry that goes out into the community to reach patients who can't get to a dentist's office.
"We are pleased to be joined by Doctor Keith Libou, who is chief clinical officer, Delta Dental of New Jersey. Good to see you. Thanks Steve, great to be here. Let's talk a little bit about when we talked to some of your colleagues, people say "I'm going to the dentist and I'm going to get my teeth checked, I'm going to take something, take care of some of my teeth." But oral health is so much more than that. You told our producers "Hey, wait a minute? We have to look at your full medical history. This is about something bigger that just your teeth." Absolutely. It used to be a situation where somebody would go to the dentist, and the dentist would still take a full medical history, but the primary reason was really to be able to provide dental care safely. If you think about it, it's one of the few medical areas where virtually every visit is an invasive procedure, because something is happening, there's an opportunity to introduce bacteria into the body. And we use anaesthetics, and so we want to make sure people can be treated safely. And now what that's evolving to is really a situation where dentists are really becoming a primary care provider for patients. Really? Absolutely. A primary care provider? Give us an example. Well, for example, you know a lot of patients, there are millions of patients that see their dentist annually. Whether it's for taking care of an emergency, who do not see a physician regularly, so a patient goes in to see the phy... you know, see their dentist, they haven't seen a physician. Right. And the dentist has an opportunity, I like to call it an "at bat", but they have an opportunity to do a number of things. They could take the patient's blood pressure, they could evaluate the patient's family history for diabetes, and do a risk assessment, they could evaluate whether or not they're at risk for sleep apnea, and something that's really really exciting , back in early 2015, the State of New Jersey Dental Board was very progressive, and they actually decl... you know, stated that it's within the scope of dental practice for dentists to actually do in-office blood testing for diabetes. For diabetes? For diabetes. The dentist will do that? The dentist can do it. Can do that? Absolutely. Are a significant number of them, doctor, doing that? No. Not... Should they be? Well, there's definitely an opportunity to do it for patients that have risk factors for diabetes..."