A Look Into the Future of Dentistry
For as long as the great majority of us can remember, the dentistry industry has followed one common model. In this model, a community of dental patients organizes around a solitary dental practice. However, as the prestigious Bob Dylan said, “times they are a-changin’.”

While the current model has been effective for years, Dr. Christian S. Stohler, the University of Toronto Faculty’s 2016 George Zarb Clinical Research Lecturer and Professor and Dean in the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University, believes the model is outdated, and is only a short time away from becoming a thing of the past.

Dentistry As Part of a Holistic Healthcare System

The industry’s century-old method for providing patient care is in need of adaptation, says Stohler. This is due to a number of dramatic societal shifts, such as “changes to insurance structures, the tides of governmental money, and the ubiquitous issue of what patients can afford.”

Stohler believes that dentistry and medicine have existed in silos for too long. The meteoric rise of “big data” and the shift towards more personalized medicine will necessitate a more holistic approach.

“You can’t have this discipline that is dealing with inflammation and infections outside the system, because all these things interact,” says Stohler. He goes on to predict that he future of healthcare and dentistry will include a union of consumerism and medicine.

Dentistry can no longer stand outside the medical system and remain considered as a separate health profession. The collection and maintenance of comprehensive electronic health records will allow for better patient tracking and treatment solutions. In other words, “as health systems become more holistic, so too will the profession of dentistry.”

Driving Change

The idea that dental health should be included in a prognosis of an individual’s overall health may not be entirely revolutionary. However, Stohler believes that the University of Toronto is uniquely positioned to place its students and faculty at the forefront of dentistry’s evolution.

As a result of existing partnerships with some of the top hospitals in Canada, Stohler thinks UofT Dentistry has tremendous chance to set the course for the next generation of dentistry professionals. Furthermore, Stohler cites the university’s relationship with the world-renowned Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering as another reason why it has a leg up on the competition.

“UofT Dentistry is one of the most prominent intensive research dentistry schools in North America, and our students in dentistry need to be trained more holistically, in the unique environment that is created here,” he says.

Stohler believes that the university’s emphasis on entrepreneurism and translational medicine gives it an opportunity to put students on the leading edge of research that will significantly impact the future of the dental profession. “The professions of the 21st century haven’t been discovered yet,” says Stohler. “New professions will be created by merging fields. But if you know the future you can prepare yourself for it.”

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Tag: Dental
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