The AAFP encourages collaboration between family physicians and dental health practitioners to provide comprehensive oral health care at all stages of life. Oral health is important throughout life and requires a coordinated effort between family physicians and their dental colleagues.
The AAFP recommends physician education in oral health screening and management and the health effects of poor oral hygiene. Medical conditions that may contribute to oral health problems include diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease. Compromised oral health is associated with cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, diabetes, premature birth, low-birth weight, pneumonia, and malnutrition. Many older people have few or no natural teeth. These individuals often select inappropriate diets leading to dietary deficiencies. Age and medications, especially polypharmacy, may reduce salivary flow resulting in xerostomia.
The American Academy of Family Physicians supports fluoridation of public water supplies. Fluoridation is a safe, economical, and effective method to prevent dental caries. Family physicians are encouraged to know the fluoride content of local drinking water. Family physicians are encouraged to educate patients about the risks and benefits associated with fluoride. Dietary fluoride supplements are encouraged for children ages six months through 16 years in areas where drinking water levels are suboptimal.
An assessment and summary of the scientific evidence on the benefits and harms of community water fluoridation is available to assist family physicians in educating elected officials and the public regarding water fluoridation decisions. (See full systematic review)
The AAFP encourages its members to be aware of the oral health disparities in their communities, and advocate for strategies that address the social determinants of oral health. All individuals should have access to age-appropriate dental services. Disparities in access to dental care and social determinants of health affect oral and overall health. (April 2018 BOD) (July 2022 BOD)