San Juan Basin Public Health will host a presentation about a growing national effort to integrate oral and behavioral health as a cohesive part of medical care.
The event will take place from 5:45 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Durango Community Recreation Center at 2700 Main Ave. A dinner will be offered at 5:30 p.m.
Mark Deutchman, director of Colorado Area Health Education Center, says integrating medical and dental care is a holistic approach that has been lacking in the past generation or so.
“Traditionally, there’s been a separation between oral health and overall health,” said Deutchman, who will speak at the event. “We’re trying to put that all back together.”
The idea, he said, is that a person’s mind and body are connected, and if someone is experiencing oral health issues, that will affect his or her overall health, causing more issues.
This year, he said, the effort is taking into account behavioral health.
“We know nearly half of our health depends on our personal choices: what we eat, how much we exercise,” Deutchman said. “The fact is medical people need to address their patients’ oral and mental health at the same time.”
Deutchman said the presentation, called “Baby Boomers and Beyond,” is relevant for all ages, but will focus on issues experienced by adults.
Rural areas, Deutchman said, usually suffer from a lack of dentists.
“It’s up to the medical people to address this in our patients’ lives and care,” he said. “A lot of people show up in a medical office with dental problems, especially in rural areas.”
Poor oral health has been shown to affect or be linked to other chronic medical diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Children, too, are also vulnerable to the negative impacts of bad oral health.
Douglas Berky, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, will also give a presentation.