THE AFFECTS OF CONTEMPORARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE ON HEALTHCARE AND DENTISTRY pp. 39-42
Authors: (Kim L. Capehart, University of Phoenix)
Abstract: Allopathic medicine has been the stable force in medical philosophy for many years. We have seen television programs with therapies from a plant in China to an herb in Brazil. It has been within the past few decades have osteopathic, acupuncture, chiropractic, and other forms of alternative therapies have become more prevalent in health care today. So how does this affect us as “oral physicians?” Well, visit the local GNC store or drug section of grocery stores and you will see the impact of contemporary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. Many products market towards those that utilize this therapy with labels stating herbal, or aromatherapy just to name a couple. The claims by these products range any where from skin rejuvenation to anything short of curing arthritis. So does CAM affect dentistry? It affects us daily. How many times do you hear a patient tell you that they had tempormandibular joint (TMJ) problems and their chiropractor fixed the problem or an herbal supplement alleviated the pain of their jaws or teeth or had a massage therapist fix their myofacial pain. It is estimated that Americans made more than 600 million visits to CAM practitioners in 1997, compared with approximately 400 million visits to all primary care physicians during the same year. CAM professional services exceeded $21 billion with approximately 60% paid out-of-pocket1. So how does this affect healthcare and dentistry? Whether you believe in alternative medicine treatment modalities or not, legislation is allocating significant sums of money to National Institute of Health for research. The government’s National Institute of Health (NIH) National Center for Contemporary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) budgeted $68.4 million for fiscal year 2000 with $72.4 million for 2001 and $110 million for 2002. This amount is compared to its original allocation of $2 million in 1992 when the center opened as Office of Alternative Medicine2. You may say that is the government but they aren’t teaching it in medical schools. Well according to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1998, 75 out of 117 medical schools include some form of training in alternative medicine2. Why is all this important for dentists? It is very important for us to recognize that many patients are looking for alternative therapies and medical schools and the government are also recognizing the trend. I want to make sure that we, as dentists, also recognize and not fall behind and know why CAM affects us as dentists.